The Morning Claret tends to steer clear of the new world, being a lover of the more classic, restrained styles of wine making. But the other night I was searching around for something to match with a south-east asian influenced curry, and settled on a South African Pinotage which had appeared in the house after a dinner party. Pinotage is a fascinating varietal – a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault, it has only ever been seriously cultivated in South Africa. With a reputation for being at best variable, and at worst, downright bizarre and smelling of paint, Pinotage is best approached with caution.
The Stellar Organics Pinotage 2010 has a strong and slightly ferral nose, with a massive dollop of blueberries, brambles and spiced loganberries. The fruit is big and bold on the palate, with a pronounced smoky coffee and cinnamon note. Given that this is only a medium-bodied wine, there is great depth of flavour without being at all overblown. The balance and length are also both excellent. Given the price (£6.99 at the time of writing), I’d say this is pretty outstanding stuff. Poor examples of Pinotage can suffer from an excess of tannin or volatile acidity (the “paint” aromas mentioned above). There’s a minute hint of that instability on the nose, but it’s slight, and the tannins are smooth and effortlessly integrated. Above all, this is a wine which tastes of pure fruit expression. There’s no oak, and I suspect, minimal processing and other additives. That is of course one of the advantages of organic production – much less “mucking around” is allowed in the winery, and the pemitted levels of sulphur dioxide are also lower.