Pinotage: a grape variety for South Africa
Pinotage is a new crossing of Pinot noir and Cinsault
. It was bred in 1924 by Professor Perold at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. The name “Pinotage” derives from the names of its parent varieties Pinot noir
and Hermitage, as Cinsault was formerly called in South Africa.
Surprisingly, the Pinotage grape almost exclusively thrives only in its South African homeland. Attempts to cultivate it in Argentina and Australia failed. In the meantime, however, Pinotage is now also grown in some smaller wine regions in Brazil, California, Canada, Israel and New Zealand. Yet the small size of plantings there – for example only 80 hectares in New Zealand – is nothing compared with around 6,200 hectares in South Africa. Pinotage vines need hot and dry conditions and they are more likely to find these in South Africa than anywhere else.
Pinotage wine: fruity and aromatic
Pinotage is a highly resilient grape variety. It is comparatively easy to cultivate and produces big yields. Pinotage does well as a bush vine, or it can also be trained on a trellis. To counter a drop in quality and lower yields, the vines are pruned or water is withheld. The vine then concentrates its energy on the remaining fruits.
Pinotage is an extremely aromatic red wine variety. The primary aroma is reminiscent of dark, red fruits such as blackberries, mixed with smoky, slightly earthy aromas. With high sugar levels and acidity, Pinotage wines have a masculine, full-bodied character and are highly capable of ageing.
A Pinotage red wine is usually dry and is fermented in a steel tank or barrel. While it is often vinified as a pure varietal, Pinotage wines are also found in blends with Merlot
, Shiraz or similarly potent grape varieties.