Pinotage, South Africa’s darling grape

Bright color, light salmon pink. Inviting nose combining small red fruits, hints of fresh tobacco, and dried herbs. Lively palate focusing on intense and seductive fruit, with a crisp and joyful style. Enjoyable to taste at the table.

In the very heart of the South African winelands, he intended to leverage the robustness of Hermitage (aka Cinsault) and the finesse of Pinot noir to produce a top quality cultivar. Success, however, would not come instantly – Perold would leave the university and the clutch of Pinotage vines there would be left uncared-for. It was only in the post-war period that the programme was re-launched and at the end of the 1950s, the variety became commercially available. Since then, it has enjoyed sustained success.

Many producers began planting Pinotage, to varying degrees of success. As an early-ripening and fairly easy variety to grow, it was highly sought-after but challenging to make, requiring very skilled winemaking techniques. Now, it is the iconic grape variety in South Africa, which is virtually the only country in the world to produce it. Its acreage has risen significantly over the past few years and it thrives when grown as a bush vine or as old vines. Both in blends and as a single varietal, it invariably brings lots of character to the wines, and although it is by no means the most widely planted cultivar in South Africa, the local winegrowers cherish it. Samarie Smith, our South African reporter, tells you everything there is to know about Pinotage with her inimitable verve. And don’t forget to take a  look at our selection of Pinotage wines at the end of the magazine.



By Samarie Smith Dipwset photograhs - courtesy of the estates