The tribe has spoken. And basically given the finger to those wine industry commentators who have chosen to ignore or brush-off what can be termed the Coffee Pinotage Revolution. At this year’s WineX in Cape Town, the top three most popular red wines were of the Coffee Pinotage variety. Numero Uno was the Diemersfontein Pinotage 2008, followed by KWV Caf+¬ Culture 2009 and the Barista Coffee Pinotage.
Pause for a bit of background: In 2001 winemaker Bertus Fourie was experimenting with yeasts and wood in the making of Pinotage when he noticed a distinctive mocha-coffee aroma and flavour in some of the batches he was playing around with. The experiments were bottled, and the success of Diemersfontein Pinotage due to its slight coffee undertones is history. The public loved it.
After taking his skill to the KWV, Bertus is now making the Barista Coffee Pinotage, and can feel well-satisfied at looking back at the legacy he has created in developing an accessible and pleasant wine which is popular among wine enthusiasts as well as those who have eschewed red wine due to the sometime harsh tannins.
But instead of congratulating the Coffee Pinotage producers for introducing a whole new generation of consumers to the pleasures of the vine, industry pundits and purists prefer to sullenly bemoan this style of wine as being “phony”, “devoid of character” and “artificial”. A suspicious journalist went as far as contacting me to ask whether the Wine and Spirits Board had conducted tests on a Coffee Pinotage for additives!
The actual reason for this spite and malice, I think, is the human urge to knock anything once it becomes a success. As Yogi Berra said of a particular New York restaurant: “Ever since that place got so damn popular nobody goes there anymore.” Neil Pendock has already commented on the lack of recognition for these Coffee Pinotage wines at the recent Absa Top 10 Pinotage Competition, and it is doubtful whether these wine styles will receive any recognition at other competitions.
But in the meantime, Bertus Fourie, KWV and Diemersfontein are smiling ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ not only at the commercial success, but at the tangible pleasure derived from experiencing other people enjoying your creation. The tribe has spoken, and now it is singing.