£24.95–£28.60, Slurp, Rare Vino Wine, Vinvm
This is not only the first time a Pinotage has been my Wine of the Week, it’s the first time I’ve featured Pinotage on this website. I hardly need say that I’ve never been much of a fan of the variety and hardly need add that that’s no excuse for its absence.
Here then, very belatedly, is my first Pinotage – and I really like this wine. There are lighter, more fragrant examples, but this 2017 celebrates Pinotage’s power and generosity, and it’s in a good place age-wise.
It's deep coloured and has abundant, ripe black cherry and blackberry fruit, creamy cappuccino and chocolate notes from oak ageing, a black-pepper savoury edge, velvety fine-grained tannins and a graphite-fresh finish.
The name for the 21 Gables range comes from the 21 distinctive gables dotted around Spier Wine Farm (the first estate I ever visited in the Cape, incidentally) and the Pinotage comes from a vineyard overlooking False Bay – the ocean bringing cooling breezes that preserve acidity and concentration in the fruit.
The grapes were hand picked, cooled and destemmed and 15% (one of the 10 fermentation batches) was naturally fermented in stainless steel. The wine was matured in French, American and Hungarian oak for 20 months, 70% new barrels and the remainder second-fill.
It’s very good with powerful and intense flavours – combinations of sweet, sharp and umami, such as chicken livers sautéed with roast shallot, red pepper, tomato and garlic, spiked with rose harissa and capers. It would go with almost any red meat or dark game, especially barbecued, casseroled or meaty ragùs, and it works with spicy sausages and with chilli con carne if you go easy on the chilli. Vegetarian options include chestnut, mushroom and black garlic casserole, dried porcini and black bean stew, rich cheese and aubergine dishes.
Spier 21 Gables Pinotage 2017, Stellenbosch, South Africa