My last day in SA this year was a carnival of pinotage awesomeness, and I came away with the realization that you can't generalize too much about this crazy grape because there are some producers who are passionate about it and make a very distinct style. Tell me you hate pinotage and I'll immediately ask you which ones you've tried, and you'd better impress me.
There's a place for the voluptuous, fruit-driven, chocolately pinotage style for which Diemersfontein has made a name, and it's a vast ocean from the gamey, meaty Kanonkop-esque style. My mother, who fell in love with SA when she came to visit me there in 2010, ADORES pinotage—specifically this full-bodied and lusty style. I knew this was just the bottle to open on Mother's Day.
"Coffee chocolate" it's not. Fruit comes first and the chocolate aspect is much more subtle. The brambly, black cherry fruit gushes out of the glass like a river, with undercurrents of dark chocolate, cinnamon and smoky earth. It's an overwhelming nose but not stewy, cooked, or overripe. My mom was in love. "Is it okay to say a wine is earthy, when all wine comes from the earth?" she asked. Love it!
Robust doesn't even begin to describe this wine, which we served slightly chilled (I'll never go back to room-temp pinotage after taking Mike Ratcliffe's suggestion). There's sweetness but also just the right amount of tannin, giving it some fleshy chutzpah. Steaks on the grill paired really nicely, though something really spicy would have stood up to it as well. While I tend to prefer a more old-world style of wine with a little less in-your-face fruit and smoke, this style will appeal to a lot of people who are currently getting sick of low-end Aussie shiraz, and if it results in SA converts, I'm all for it. And most important, my mom had a great Mother's Day thanks to this wine, my cooking, and lovely weather for a hike. Enjoy big reds or know someone who does? This is a great pinotage for Zin, Cali red blend and Aussie shiraz drinkers.
Diemersfontein 2009 Carpe Diem Pinotage
Wine of Origin: Wellington
Price: R125* (about US$15)