This Cup of Pinotage Flows Over


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.


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10 thoughts on “This Cup of Pinotage Flows Over

  1. Yaaa right… Paris Hilton also makes it onto the “most popular three” list- but that doesn’t mean I want to sleep with her!

  2. Agreed, Johan. I don’t care if the masses are listening to the Backstreet Boys and the Spice Girls. Doesn’t make those bands better than Led Zeppelin or the Red Hot Chili Peppers. If Diemersfontein Pinotage was R35 a bottle I might even have bought the odd bottle, but the price is WAY out!

  3. My friends and I fell in love when we first tasted a Diemers, I think back in 2004, so we bought cases of it. Subsequently I decided to make my own garagiste Pinotage aiming for the coffee aromas and flavours. At first taste it was a huge success (just the right amount of oak wood chips were added). Unfortunately, now at bottling stage, most of the coffee flavour is gone.

  4. Just like any new invention it’ll be scorned by those that think they know it all and they’ll doom it to fail. I love the coffee flavours but then it’s all a matter of taste… clearly the pundits and purists have none.

  5. Mmmm, the wine industry is a strange place.

    It’s the only industry I can think of where you are praised when you reproduce yesterday’s tastes (products) perfectly and ridiculed when you produce (apparently quite legally) new tastes (products).

    Or, would it have been OK when someone came up with a “coffee-flavored” Cabernet Sauvignon? In other words, are the old “vooroordele” against Pinotage at play here again?

  6. Well, I beg to differ with the last 2 comments.

    For me nothing is more pleasant than an evening with some friends flattening a bottle of Diemersfontein Pinotage whilst nibbling on some Lindt 80% chocolate. They co-operate so nicely!

  7. Pixel, Steve- quite right. It’s about personal choice and preference. Thsi si simply not a style of wine that I like. It has nothing to do with being the newest “in”- drink for newcomers to wine, and yuppie-labelflashers… how do you pare this with any food except chocolate, i a way that remains palatable?

  8. I love Pinotage, but even Diemersfontein makes a better one (the Carpe Diem) than the “coffee” one. I’ve been to many chocolate & wine tastings, but I’ve yet to find even one instance where any combination of the two is better than the wine or chocolate on its own. I’m quite happy to be in the minority.

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