Pinotage Gains Traction
At dinner parties around the world, wine lovers are uncorking Pinotage with aplomb: swirling, sniffing, and swooning, pairing it with well-hung beef, and talking in hushed tones about its checkered past.
It is, after all, the South African grape variety British Masters of Wine slammed in the 1970s as tasting of “rusty nails,” smelling “hot and horrible,” and “reek[ing] of nail varnish” and “acetone.”
Then, it surged into the spotlight in ‘91 when Kanonkop Pinotage 1989 was named World’s Best Red Wine at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London, and Beyers Truter, then the Kanonkop winery cellar master, was named International Winemaker of the Year.
All seemed like smooth sailing for Pinotage until 2007 when Jane MacQuitty, wine columnist for The Times in London, wrote, “South Africa has yet to tame its red wine’s peculiar burnt rubber and dirt odour.”
Then the following spring, she removed the gloves and wrote, “A recent tasting of the five-star wines … widely regarded as the Cape’s crème de la crème, proved to be a cruddy, stomach-heaving and palate-crippling disappointment … South Africa’s tell-tale dirty, rubbery red wine pong was there in abundance.” You may recall reading about this controversy in Tidings in October 2009.
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