This may be one of the most exciting selections in recent memory – a 2020 Pinotage from Stellenbosch, South Africa. The first South African wine in the share for a while, in addition to Pinotage being so rarely seen when cultivated in such a hands-off way from old bush-vines. Bernhard Bredell is the 7th generation Stellenbosch (Lower Helderburg) winemaker behind this bottling, and he works on a decomposed granitic/sandy soil site known as Sinai Hill. His grandfather Koos and Koos’s brother Pieter planted most of these old bush vines in the ‘60s. These dry-farmed bush vines grow, among many varieties, Pinotage – a South African variety that is a vitis vinifera cross of Pinot Noir & Cinsault (not to be confused with a hybrid grape). The story here goes the same as elsewhere throughout the wine world – a potentially light/pretty grape that is conventionally bulk-farmed to oblivion with its high watermarks being overly-extracted robust expressions of the grape. For Bernhard Bredell, the grape can be one of great finesse and subtlety (as you might imagine a perfect cross of otherwise lighter-bodied grapes like Pinot Noir/Cinsault could be capable). Though, for this cuvée, the vision isn’t all grape-focused; the proximity to the ocean in tandem with a silica-rich topsoil cast the profile of this wine as one of good fruit sheathed in minerality. The kind of wine that Bernhard says, despite the grape’s tough skin, finds “somewhere underneath that façade [of big bold chunky reds] is a little chip off the ol’block that should be revealed.” Indeed it has – awesome, singular Pinotage!
100% Pinotage, a close relative to both Cinsault and Pinot Noir. After a hand-harvest, the grapes are gently pressed and fermented with wild yeasts via semi-carbonic maceration. The wine sees no wood, and is bottled unfined, unfiltered with a touch of SO2. This is a fresh, crunchy red showcasing the fruit and acidity of Pinotage, while beautifully integrating a savory layer of minerality brought forth by the maritime climate of the vineyard.