South African Pinot Noir has, to a certain extent, been plucked off its elevated pedestal from where it sat casting a beady black eye on other grape varieties. A few years ago a tweed jacket, public school education and an ability to name all the Grand Cru Domaines in the Cotes de Beaune were required to label yourself a Pinot Noir maker. Except for Jan Boland Coetzee, that is, but then he is an exception to any rule: if Jan says something about wine, everyone agrees.
That has all been changed as consumers have learned to distinguish shit from,Shinola and realise that Pinot Noir is just another wine made from grapes by ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ surprise, surprise ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ mere mortals. No-one needs to talk in hushed tones when opening a bottle of Pinot Noir and you can actually discuss rugby, chicks and cars while drinking the stuff. It’s only wine, albeit very pleasant.
In South Africa the cool-is-better maxim has been used more than a Paris Hilton Rizla Joint Roller when describing ideal Pinot Noir conditions. The fact that most cool climate vineyards like low yields and therefore caused bullish wine prices added to Pinot’s snobbish image through creating the impression that good Pinot has to be expensive.
This has changed, somewhat. Those buggers from Distell came up with Two Oceans Pinot Noir at under R30 ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ how dare they? And what’s more, it’s damn well drinkable as reasonably priced Pinot Noir can be. All the variety characteristics are there together with a ballsy grip and lengthy finish.
Ronnie Melck, erstwhile MD of Stellenbosch Farmers Winery and arguably equipped with the best palate the local wine scene has ever witnessed, described Pinot Noir as “die lekkerste kuierwyn” due to its lightness on the palate yet sturdy structure on the back palate. One can’t ask for anything more from the Two Oceans.
Another well-priced charmer is Felicit+¬ Pinot Noir from the Newton Johnson Family up Hemel-en-Aarde way. This wine is made from grapes grown in Eilandia near Robertson and comes in at R60. This wine gives me something that South African Pinot Noir can become world-renowned for, namely a delectable sweet core. Sure, we have the mushrooms and dried leaves and cherry which are classical Pinot verses, but that secure blast of sunny concentration is super sexy. The wines from Burgundy need at least 10 years in the bottle to attain this, while we can produce it from day one.
Sticking around Robertson. Abrie Bruwer from Springfield has eventually released a Pinot Noir and it is a beaut. Similar to the Felicit+¬ but a bit fuller on the palate with a velvety texture. Abrie joins Jacques Bruwer from Bon Courage and Danie de Wet from De Wetshof as boere who have throttled the myth of the Pinot Noir grape only able to make quality wine in cool valleys fondled by see breezes.
But with Robertson having the highest free chalk soil content in South Africa, their ability to produce Pinots matching their sublime Chardonnays is a no brainer.
-,,,,,,,,, Emile Joubert
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