Pinotage South Africa's HUSP

Thursday, 7 October, 2004
Peter May
Pinotage is not just a USP for South Africa, stated Beyers Truter: it's a HUSP - a Huge Unique Selling Point. Truter, owner/winemaker at Beyerskloof Winery & Chair of the Pinotage Association, was speaking to UK based clients of ABSA Bank, sponsors of the annual Pinotage Top 10 Competition at a Pinotage tasting and luncheon in London on 5 October 2004.

He said that because "Pinotage wine was first made just 80 years ago, it is still in baby shoes", compared with varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. However, "through extensive research by the Pinotage Association, we know more about growing and making Pinotage than is known about any other variety anywhere.

Truter said winemakers must ask themselves "do I want to be an imitator or an innovator?" He declared "Pinotage makers are the innovators of South Africa and we're aiming to make the best Pinotage in the world."

The event was held in the wine cellar of South African owned Vivat Bacchus restaurant, a partner of Johannesburg's Browns restaurant. It started with a walk around tasting of ten top Pinotages, selected to represent the best wines of recent years. They were poured by five leading winemakers, Dirkie Morkel (Bellevue Estate), Francois Naude (L'Avenir Estate), Danie Steytler (Kaapzicht Estate), Bennie Wannenburg (Wamakersvallei Winery) and Beyers Truter.

A luncheon menu especially prepared to match the wines, with Pinotage a component of several dishes, included starter 'Freezer Cured Pinotage Foie Gras' and main course 'Pinotage Braised Daube of Beef'. Dessert wasaccompanied by the unique sweet Pineau de Laborie, a part fermented Pinotage wine fortified with Pinotage brandy.

Dirkie Morkel reflected that although few of the guests were previously familiar with Pinotage, there was great enthusiasm for the wines, and the level of general wine knowledge was high. "I was put on the spot several times by detailed questions", he said. Beyers Truter concluded the event had been a resounding success, and suggested it could become an annual event.

The wines were:

Allee Bleue  2002
Bellevue  2002
Beyerskloof  Reserve 2001
Graham Beck Old Road  2002
Kaapzicht Steytler  2001
L'Avenir  2000
Rijk's Private Cellar 2002
Tukulu  2001
Uiterwyk De Waal  2002
Wamakersvallei La Cave  2002
Pineau de Laborie 2001