An English passion for SA Pinotage

Monday, 23 February, 2004
Marius Labuschagne
Well-known wine connoisseur receives honorary membership from the SA Pinotage Association

Well-known wine connoisseur and wine writer from England, Peter May, on Wednesday (18/02/04) received honorary membership from the South African Pinotage Association in recognition of being the world’s most loyal and passionate scribe on Pinotage.

Pinotage is South Africa’s home grown red wine variety and the honorary membership was handed to Peter May during a wine tasting at the Wine Cellar in Observatory, Cape Town. More than 20 Pinotage wines from the past decade were tasted to celebrate South Africa’s own grape variety. Peter and his wife, Joan, were guests of honour.

Peter was instrumental in organising the world’s first International Pinotage tasting held in Cape Town in 2001 and staffed the Pinotage Association stand at the London International Wine Fair over three days in May 2003. He is a member of the Central London Wine Society and Verulam Wine Tasting Club and presents tastings on South African and other wines. In conjunction with Cape Town’s Wine Cellar, they hold annual Pinotage tastings in London and Cape Town. Peter started to seriously explore the international world of wine during the eighties and nineties.

He discovered Pinotage during his first visits to the Cape in 1996 and 1997. It was during the same period that the South African Pinotage Association was founded to promote the Cape’s home grown variety. At that stage many wine producers neglected Pinotage in favour of varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Chardonnay. Peter, who immediately had a passion for Pinotage, shared the thought that the variety could vanish in the enthusiasm to plant only 'big name' varieties.

'Yet Pinotage can make a delicious inviting spicy wine that will age and display complex characteristics. Other wine regions had made a variety their own, Uruguay with Tannat, Chile with Carmenere and Argentina with Malbec. California was lucky with their own Zinfandel and South Africa has its own Pinotage, but then few seemed to appreciate it,' says Peter.

After visiting South African, Peter formed the Pinotage Club in England, with a website as a free non-commercial fan club for the variety with the intention to save and promote the variety. 'Our intention was to list every Pinotage wine with a label picture and tasting notes. What seemed quite achievable in 1997, has happily never quite happened as more and more wineries have begun producing Pinotage and it is almost impossible to list all. A Pinotage Club newsletter is circulated to 500 members around the world,' says Peter.

Peter, who passed the Wine & Spirit Education Trust Certificate and Higher Certificate with honours, writes wine articles for various publications and websites, including his own websites and

In November 2003 he was accepted as a UK lecturer for South Africa’s Cape Wine Academy.

Caption: Cheers to Pinotage! Peter May (left) received honorary membership from the South African Pinotage Association. With him is Duimpie Bayly, vice-chairman of the Pinotage Association and Cape Wine Master. The honorary membership certificate was handed to Peter after a Pinotage tasting presented by the Wine Cellar in Cape Town.

Released by ML Communications on behalf of the Pinotage Association.
Contact: Marius Labuschagne
Tel: +27 (0) 21 981-8546