This divisive South African red grape variety was the result of a crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut in 1925 by a Stellenbosch University professor, taking 25 years for it to become a prevalent variety.
Although the vine has much going for it - grows with ease, is strong (a trait inherited from its parent Cinsaut) and ripens early with good acidity - its success depends on how it is cultivated. It only reaches its maximum potential when the vines are old, yields kept low and great care is taken between fermentation and bottling.Read More
By the 1990s, certain producers were taking such pains, showing that the ester-like nature of the vine - in large part the cause of its divisiveness and the reason for some complaining that it smelt of paint - could be greatly minimised. Today it continues to be widely grown in South Africa and is increasing in popularity. It is often blended; in fact, Cape blends must comprise between 30% and 60% Pinotage.
The deeply coloured wines produced by this variety are rich, full-bodied and somewhat aromatic; they display earthy, wild fruit flavours such as brambles, sweet red berries and plums - a legacy of the vine's Pinot Noir parentage - and are reminiscent of summer pudding. Generally, Pinotage wines should be drunk young.