Going Vertical: Kanonkop Pinotage From 1998 to 2009
What does a 1998 South African Pinotage taste like? Oddly enough, like a musty, saddle leather-driven Rioja—at least the bottling by Kanonkop.
This week, we tasted ten Kanonkop Pinotage bottlings spanning 11 years with winemaker Abrie Beeslaar. Kanonkop is a historic wine estate in the Stellenbosch region, run by the same family for four generations. They grow Pinotage (a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault developed in the 1920s), as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. But Pinotage and its attempt to overcome a negative stereotype in the eyes of the American consumer took precedent during the recent tasting led by Beeslaar. (That’s USQ’s Tom Smith tasting with Beeslaar above.) He noted that wine drinkers tend to judge the variety over the producer, when in fact, we should be judging the producer not the variety. And after tasting stellar examples, such as the 1998, the earthy and complex 2008 Cape Winemakers Guild Pinotage and the juicy, red berry-focused 2009 Pinotage, his words hit a homerun.
We could bog you down with copious notes on each wine, but overall, the wines showed a variety of red wine descriptors, from tints of deep cherry to aromas of smoked meats to flavors reminiscent of classic Burgundies. The 2008 Cape Winemakers Guild Pinotage, designed specifically for auction by winemakers invited to the guild, stood out with its 100 percent new oak aging, dark, earthy nose, and complex brown shoe leather and dark fruit notes on the palate. It seemed quite similar to the 1998, with its musty funk and still juicy fruit cocooned with strong earth and leather notes. One person even joked that it was like Chateau Musar, the infamously wine geek red wine blend from Lebanon. Yet even the young, but “will mature beautifully” 2009 had many fans, thanks to its powerful structure, red berry flavors, and balanced tannins. If we’re going to judge Pinotage, we’re going to rule in its favor, at least when we’re talking about Kanonkop. -Stephanie Cain
Get the 2009 Kanonkop Pinotage here.
Heard It Through the Grapevine
Do you want to be my date to the Spring Fling? Twist and Shout your way over to USQ tomorrow for our annual Spring Fling Mega Tasting. We’ll be pouring wines from Italy, Spain, France, South Africa, and Greece, set to our favorite sock hop hits. They’ll be a Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On. Sip on summertime selections such as Nora Albarino, Naia Verdejo, Raats Estate Chenin Blanc, Hiedler Gruner Veltliner, Althea Prosecco, Willm Riesling, Chateau Larose Trintaudon Haut-Medoc, Rustenberg John X Merriman, and more. Throw on those Blue Suede Shoes, and we’ll see you there!
Admission to the tasting is free, and reservations are not required.
USQ’s Southern Exposure Tasting
It may still be winter in New York, but it’s summer in the other hemisphere! Join USQ tomorrow from 2pm to 5pm and head south of the equator for our Southern Exposure Tasting. Warm up with sunsoaked sips from South Africa, Argentina, Chile, and New Zealand, including tropical Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, structured Chilean Pinot Noir, electric Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc and silky Mendoza Malbec. Featured producers include La Posta, Kanonkop, Luca, Tikal and Los Vascos, among others.
Admission to this tasting is free, and reservation are not required.
Want to hear about special tastings? Follow us on Twitter @USQWines and like us on Facebook!