The Age of Pinot (Pinotage!) 03/21/11
So far my vinological voyage has taken me to some pretty interesting places: from the United States of America, to various other countries, some of which aren’t even US territories yet! At long last, though, it seems my tour of the world’s major wine regions is about to reach its final stop.
Perhaps best known for its leopards and racial intolerance, South Africa – a country located, if I know my geography, somewhere in northern Africa – is also home to a thriving wine industry. Having only recently entered into the international arena (apartheid was not good for publicity), one grape varietal in particular has stood out as South Africa’s signature: Pinotage.
A cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut, Pinotage is a red grape whose wines are usually meant to be drunk young. The one I ended up buying for this week’s Twitter #Bteam varietal review was Painted Wolf “The Den” 2009 Pinotage, which cost me $11, and which won me over mostly because of its name. I will, however, note that the Pinotage selection at my local liquor store, while rather disappointing, was still more than double the Mencia – so the grape is not completely unknown. If you’d like to learn some of the actual history behind Pinotage and South African wine, go here (link thanks to @poursip).
Anyway, I brought this bottle over to my friend Don’s, where I discovered he had no wine glasses. A quick trip to the Dollar Store later, we were ready to begin. In the (brand new!) glass this poured a dark, nigh-opaque maroon, with lighter edges. Aromas of cedar and raspberry wafted up to my nose, but they were overshadowed by a stronger berry note that I think might be mulberry (but, of course, might not be) – I perceived it as kind of a midpoint between blackcurrant and raspberry, if that helps.
On the palate this was full-bodied but had minimal tannins, as well as a little more heat than was ideal. Still though, the overall impression I got from this wine was fruit, with flavors of berry (here the currant was more pronounced) and chocolate. This paired quite well with a steak burrito from Qdoba, as well as (more surprisingly) some Lunchables Turkey Circles.
A good buy for the price, I award “The Den” thumbs up. As for where I’ll be headed next…who knows?