Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Lovable Pinotage?

I've formed a few opinions over my 20 years in the wine industry, and one of those opinions is that some wine grapes have more potential than others. I do believe that some grapes are more 'noble' than others, and when it comes to Pinotage, a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault that became a South African specialty, I'd grade it about a B-minus in terms of its overall potential.

Bellingham's 2011 "The Bernard Series," Bush Vine Pinotage doesn't come cheap ($35), but it does show that a fair-to-middlin' grape can do something special when it comes from old vines planted in the right site that finds its way to a good winemaker. I was surprised at the sweet fruit and concentration of the wine. It was clean and profoundly fruity with bright blueberry highlights and a deep center of rich black raspberry fruit and nary a touch of the black rubber aromas that I often notice in the variety . I'd liken this one to an old vine Zinfandel, but it was a bit more delicate on the finish and chimed in at 14% alcohol, well below most contemporary Zinfandels.

The dry-farmed old vines give it tremendous concentration, and I don't think you'll find anything like it from outside of South Africa.

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