The second Saturday of October is always a highlight on the wine calendar as International Pinotage Day is celebrated.
Every year, wine lovers from all over the globe celebrate this wine which is proudly South African-but it’s also the month to raise a toast to the father of pinotage Professor Abraham Perold.
Perold, who was winery, KWV, Chief Oenologist from 1928 until his death in 1941, was the brain behind pinotage. It was he who crossed the noble Pinot Noir with the Cinsaut Noir to create what we know as Pinot-age. No one knows why he wanted to cross Pinot Noir, the prince of French grape varieties, with Hermitage as he left no notes, but it's clear he was on to something as the wine is still very popular, 76 years after his death.
According to Marco Ventrella, KWV's viticulturist, while it was Perold who crossed the Cinsaut Noir with the Pinot Noir, it was wine pioneer, Dr. Charles Neihaus, who discovered, and rescued, the seedlings left in Perold’s home when Perold moved to a new house. It was a year later, when Perold had a new invested interest in his seedlings, that he suggested the new variety be propagated.
“Pinotage is a tricky wine to make well, and in the past, it has had a bad reputation-this, however, has changed as winemakers today have focused on reducing the crop yields and now use careful winemaking techniques to manage this unique grape”, he said.
Jackie Cameron who is the chef and founder of the Jackie Cameron School of Food and Wine in the KZN Midlands, said International Pinoatge Day means a celebration of our heritage as South Africans through wine.
“Pinotage makes us unique. It’s the coming together of pinot noir and cinsaust (hermitage). Pinotage is ours. If I can take ownership of it in South Africa, a red wine grape that is South Africa’s signature variety with an earthy cheeriness”, she said.
Cameron said she doesn’t feel like South Africans embracing enough of pinotage.
“I don’t feel like us South African’s drink enough Pinotage, the reason for this is that I believe there has been some very average Pinotage made in the past. Presently for instance, Grangehurst Pinotage is world class-Jeremy Master and also Kevin Grant have made a very cool blender of pinot noir, cinsaut, and pinotage called his Ataraxia Serenity."
International Marketing and Sales person at Diemersdal Estate a winery in Durbanville, Steffi Layer said the variety Pinotage is very important for them as it does very well in the Durbanville territory.
“With moderate day temperatures and cool nights, we produce well balanced, smooth and fruit driven Pinotage. This day is great for us as we can celebrate the variety with our visitors to the farm and offer them older vintages and a menu designed to match the characteristics of Pinotage. Pinotage is very versatile and the nice thing is that it is actually the perfect glass of red wine on its own, but have it with steak or lamb chops of the fire”, he said.
Larry said they have two distinctly different style of Pinotage; their Diemersdal Estate Pinotage which is elegant, the fruit driven and medium bodied structure, their Reserve Pinotage.
Pinotage wine can be paired with sashimi and sushi, bobotie, ratatouille and curry, while Cameron said she pairs pinotage wine with South African dishes like samp and beans with 35hour Sous-Vide beef tongue, crispy carrots, fresh horseradish and Freda’s green cabbage.