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edited by Sue Courtney

Wine Reviews - Pinotage
by Sue Courtney
Last updated 22 Dec 2013

Click here for a overview of Pinotage in New Zealand.

Although some of these tasting notes may be found elsewhere on this site, this page brings together most of my Pinotage tastings and are listed alphabetically by Producer. Click here for rating systems and abbreviations.

[2007] [2006] [2005] [2004] [2003] [2002] [2001] [2000] [1999] [1998] [older] [index]

2010 Vintage

Ascension The Bell Ringer Matakana Pinotage 2010 (sc) Vivid black red in colour with a fruity aroma that's reminiscent of black cherry and blueberry with a fine milk chocolate overlay and a savoury inflection that carries through to the generous, fruity palate. The texture is smooth and velvety with a backbone of creamy American oak and the lasting memory is chocolate and cherry with a kick of peppery spice as it lingers. Very approachable already. Aged in American oak for 9 months, 33% new. 13.5% alc. $29.00. 5May2011.

Kowhai Point Auckland Pinotage 2010 (sc) Deep, bright, black cherry hue. Fragrant, floral red berry scents with a nuance of dried rose petals too. A medium-bodied wine in palate weight, this is full of raspberries, blueberries and cherries with smoky oak in the background, cake spice and a savoury smoky (bacon-like_ depth. Nicely structured silky tannins and a finish that's fruity yet dry. Increases in depth and intensity with time in the bottle 12.5% alc. $24.00. 3Apr2011.

Manaia Northland Pinotage Malbec 2010 (sc) Bright ruby black. Deep wineberry scent with a hint of vanilla. Gamey and savoury with cosy tannins, this is a medium-bodied style with juicy red and black fruit but ti also has a slightly green edge. But that actually harmonised with the chicken cooked with leeks, bacon, mushrooms and herbs in red wine. A delightful food match. 14% alc. $10. 13May2010.

Marsden Reserve Bay of Islands Pinotage 2010 (c) Deep and dark, ripe, juicy and delicious with wild blackberry fruit, cherry, not really gamey at first but it does come through on the aftertaste. Dark chocolate undercurrent, spicy with a well-balanced savoury finish. Velvety tannins, soft aftertaste, fine finish. Black tea. 12Sep2011.
Deep purple red. Ribena and mint sauce on the nose, fine tannins in the palate which impart smooth flow and beautifully balanced flavours of mint, chocolate and blackcurrant. Drinks very well right now. 14% alc. $28.00. 17Sep2011.

2009 Vintage

Kidnapper Cliffs Hawkes Bay Pinotage 2009 (c) Deep and intense in its rich red black colourm the aromas are rich, full-bodied, bramble-fruited and Bordeaux-like with classy French oak tantalising the olfactory senses. It tastes ripe, juicy, creamy and spicy with nuances of Syrah-like pepper and roses, smoky French oak, cherry and blackberry fruit and rounded, mouth-filling tannins. There's a deep, rich, smoky savouriness that is really appealing and the fruit dissolves into the tannins on the finish. A serious wine with a sensuous, sexy, je ne sais quoi appeal. 14% alc. $45.00. 27Mar2011.

Muddy Water Waipara Pinotage 2009 (sc) With a heady 15.5% alcohol, this wine totally seduces the senses in every way. It's a deep red colour with a rich, ripe, creamy, voluptuous smelling bouquet – a rose would not smell better. The voluptuousness comes through in the full-bodied palate that's characterised by cherry and plum fruit, lashings of creamy vanillin oak and a smoky tobacco-like nuance with a profound gamey savouriness, a but pinot noir-like in fact, welling up from deep within. It really does have a succulent, mind-blowing appeal. 15.5% alc. $38.00. 27Mar2011.
Ruby garnet, a little fading on the edges but deep in the bowl of the glass. The ripe, creamy aroma gives an impression of sweetness and that comes through in the palate with ripe cherry and plum fruit, creamy oak, underlying tobacco and game. A heady wine, it's a little like pinot noir like, but richer and fuller and drinking well now. 15.5% alc. N/A. 30Nov2011.

2008 Vintage

Karikari Estate Northland Pinotage 2008 (D) A rich ruby colour with a profound density to the hue. The aroma is smoky, savoury, meat and gamey with quite a bit of polish coming through. It's silky textured with a plushness to the mouthfeel. A generous wine with concentrated fruit from the freshness of strawberry to the richness of cassis and everything in between. Oak adds a polished veneer and well-balanced underlying acidity hints of its potential to age. And as the wine disappeared from the glass, hints of vanilla start to come through. I love the evolution of the wine and the journey it took me on. The smokiness whisked me to a place where I was sitting with my loved on in front of an outdoor fire, and then there was the long, sensual, supple and gently spicy aftertaste that it left behind. 13.9% alc. $46.00. 9Apr2011.

2007 Vintage

Ascension 'The Bell Ringer' Pinotage 2007 (sc) Beautiful light crimson-purple red. Savoury, smoked meat and bacon notes on the nose with rustic wild cherries. Lovely clean savoury flavours, bright and tasty with a silky mouthfeel, juicy cherry and blueberry fruit and a hint of chocolate. The smoky oak from the nose comes through and the finish is distinctively Pinotage gamey. Seems to have taken a different direction from recent previous vintages. It has a much lighter touch. 13.5% alc. $25. 17Nov2008.

Karikari Estate Northland Pinotage 2007 (D) Deep black red coloured with a violet sheen, it's savoury and spicy on the nose with chicory / mocha / chocolate and smoked meats in unison - fresh - voluptuous - tantalising. Youthful and primary to the taste with lots of underlying acidity - tannins are amazingly supple and svelte and have a fine texture while the flavours has a meaty savoury depth and bittersweet red fruits - but it's juicy and full of sweet berry and cherry too.... tasty, sweet-fruited and a little spicy - momentarily Aus Shiraz comes to mind - but it's too savoury and gamey to ever be that. Don't like Pinotage - then try this. It's simply excellent. 13.9% alc. $45. 30May2009.

Lincoln 'Heritage' Marlborough Pinotage 2007 (sc) Pre release barrel sample. A light depth of colour but still purple and ruby. Confectionary fruit aroma. A little fizzy and spritzy in palate. Savoury gamey finish. Clean and well made with lovely fruit impression and softness to the aftertaste with a touch of sweetness that makes it a real crowd pleaser. Fruitcake cherries in a glass. ***. $18.00. Peter May's Pinotage Tasting: 11Nov2007.

Soljans Gisborne Pinotage 2007 (sc) Deep blackberry colour with a luminescence to the hue. Dark, brooding leathery aromas and rich dark, savoury flavours with earth, forest floor, liquorice and creamy oak. Quite big tannins, but bright, clean and already delish. ****. 13.8% alc. $18.00. Peter May's Pinotage Tasting: 11Nov2007.

Te Awa Hawkes Bay Pinotage 2007 (C) Concentrated, impenetrable, blackberry red hue. There's a tomato character to the aroma and a hint of a barnyard character too. A full-bodied wine in the mouth with soft tannins and bright, spicy, meaty flavours. Actually the tannins are quite powerful but the juicy dark berry fruit cuts right them down. Acidity pops up like a speed bump, it's here and then it's gone, and the finish is chocolatey with a hint of liquorice. A fascinating wine. 14.5% alc. $30.00. 21Jan2010.

2006 Vintage

Ascension 'The Parable' Matakana Pinotage 2006 (sc) Bright ruby red coloured, this smells smoky and savoury with vanillin oak, earth and a hint of salinity. Fruity and savoury to the taste with quite firm tannins, earthy, barnyard, leathery notes, smoky bacon and freshly killed game meats, there's a flourish of red berry fruit together with spice and vanillin oak on finish and a salty, liquorice tang to the finish. Lots of fascination for the Pinotage hedonist. 12.5% alc. $25. 10Jul2007.
Deep red. Shy on nose, subtle hints of chocolatey oak. Bright-fruited with a gamey, savoury backbone, new oak is reasonably obvious, it's has a spicy spritziness, dark berry fruits, a suggestion of mint and a touch of leatheriness to the soft, rounded finish which has power and length. Smooth in its attack, it's a very good food wine because the previous day it was an excellent match to grilled lamb loins. ***1/2. 12.5% alc. $25.00 Peter May's Pinotage Tasting: 11Nov2007.

Hihi Gisborne Pinotage 2006 (sc) Bright colour. Earthy and savoury with an ever so slightly 'Bretty' nose. Dry to the taste with grippy tannins, leather, mocha, dusty oak and a slight perception of spritziness, the blackberry fruit fights to emerge from under it all but there's a cherry sweetness that succeeds. I wondered if this had that often quoted South African 'paintbox' descriptor or is it just Brett? 13% alc. $19. **1/2. Peter May's Pinotage Tasting: 11Nov2007.
Tasted a few days later, all 'bretty characters had blown off. This was in astoundingly sound condition and the fruit sweetness combines beautifully with the savouriness. It's now velvet and creamy with a long sweet finish. Perhaps it needed decanting? I've upped the rating to ***1/2.

Karikari Estate Northland Pinotage 2006 (D) Very deep, dark and dense in colour. Lots of mature fruitcake with a cherry pie sweetness on the nose - vanillin oak plays a big part too with a delicious smoky savouriness - intense and deep. Later there's wild blackberries on a dusty road. In the mouth massive tannins are tempered by a vanilla and cherry fruit sweetness which also wins over the savoury meaty backbone - there's something that reminds me a Aus Shiraz (Am. Oak perhaps), plus a gamey, earthy Pinotage rusticity and plenty of acid bite - but it loses points because the tannins are harsh - but the chocolate that comes though to linger - and then cigar box - tries to change my mind. I like, I don't like it, I like it, I don't like it. Can't make up my mind. And that is what makes it interesting. 13.2% alc. $45. 30May2009.
A deep rich red in colour, concentrated, opaque. It smells like chocolate – a savoury chocolate, a meaty chocolate – chocolate infused with cherry and vanillin oak. Rich, meaty and savoury to the taste with concentrated berries and wild blackberries – like the ones I picked from the roadside last month with the occasional unripe one finding its ways in. A suggestion of dried rose petal than a meaty, savoury, gamey backbone and a touch of spice. Firmly structured and gutsy with excellent, this is very much a baby with a bright long future ahead of it. 13.2% alc. $45.00. 10Apr2011.

Kerr Farm P06 Kumeu Pinotage 2006 (sc) Bright in its ruby crimson colour, attractively scented, floral with hints of lavender and berry. Creamy oak fills the velvety textured palate which is ripe, juicy and velvety textured with fruit intensity and oak complexity to the backbone. Well integrated acidity and a touch of Pinotage's signature rusticity to the finish together with a spicy flourish makes this a very good and utterly enjoyable red wine. Four stars in the initial tasting, even better the next day. Pre release sample. ****. 13% alc. $20.00 Peter May's Pinotage Tasting: 11Nov2007.

Marsden Estate Bay of Islands Pinotage 2006 (c) Dense dark red. Savoury aromas. Rich red fruit, smoke, vanilla and raspberry cream. Fruit is ripe and sweet and blackberries infuse into the flavours too. This is a big gutsy red that is sure to please - it is rich and full of flavour while the texture is velvety smooth. 14% alc. $24. 6Oct2009.

Muddy Water Waipara Pinotage 2006(sc) Fading ruby red colour, deeply translucent, not opaque. Lovely savouriness and chocolate box on the nose and richness, savouriness, spiciness and complexity in the palate. Not overly fruity but deep and robust with a gorgeous, mouth-coating silky texture and the slightest suggestion of musk. Well-balanced acidity that carries the length and on the lingering finish there's a rusticity that could only come from the Pinotage grape. Excellent. *****. 15% alc. $32.00. Peter May's Pinotage Tasting: 11Nov2007.

Okahu Northland Pinotage 2006 (sc) Dense and opaque in its deep black red colour. Big, rich, ripe, huge-fruited. Lovely funky aromas that have an almost sexy, pleasing allure, then in the velvety textured palate it's full of wild berry fruit, creamy oak, spice and hints of chocolate. Big, bright, juicy, grippy and tasty, it's totally interesting and fascinating. ****1/2. 13.5% alc. $28.00. Peter May's Pinotage Tasting: 11Nov2007.

Soljans Gisborne Pinotage 2006 (sc) Dark pink red. Smoky, medicinal nose, earthy, graphite and slightly metallic flavour. **. 12% alc. $18.00. Peter May's Pinotage Tasting: 11Nov2007.
Earlier in the day, when first opened with lunch at Soljans Winery, this wine initially showed wonderful promise. Smoky and savoury on the nose, a little funky and gamey and a hint of a 'pinot noir' character, these traits carried through to the palate. But then it fell apart. With artificial red berries, plums and boiled lolly flavours, it seemed too sweet, confected and concocted but also a little bit (unripe) green and metallic with a 'ram on heat' barging thru the bitter finish. We bought this wine to accompany our meals and I couldn't finish the glass. Interestingly this wine was not submitted to the tasting. We used the remainder of this bottle in the tasting. 11Nov2007.

Te Awa Hawkes Bay Pinotage 2006 Very deep in its intense black-red colour. Spicy with hints of liquorice and big, bold full flavours with lovely presentation of sweet fruit, thick tannins, tar, wild berries, plum and a rustic savouriness to the lasting finish. Oak is classy and Bordeaux-like. Succulent and savoury, a wine to savour. ****1/2. Bottled but being not released until 2008. Will be about $30.00. Peter May's Pinotage Tasting: 11Nov2007.

2005 Vintage

Babich Winemakers Reserve Hawkes Bay Pinotage 2005 (sc)There's a touch of vividness to the purple red colour and the aromas are creamy and ripe and full of dark berries. Medium to full-bodied in weight, it's upfront flavours are full strawberries, berries and plums with hints of liquorice but it becomes quite earthy and savoury with charry oak, hints of leather and tar, there's some 'unripe blackberry' acidity too. Quite dry on the finish with a grainy tannin structure, there's a touch of Pinotage's rusticity too. ***1/2. 13% alc. $25.00. Peter May's Pinotage Tasting: 11Nov2007.
Later in the week, like some of the others, the fruit sweetness really struts its stuff. It's become velvety and creamy with dried herbs mingling among the savoury oak and tobacco flavours. I love the way it's developed. Rating is upped to ****.

Karikari Estate Northland Pinotage 2005 (D) Incredibly coloured, like a big juicy crimson edged boysenberry, this emanates dark, cedary, smoky oak and concentrated brambly fruit aromas. It's intense and concentrated to the taste with a 'wild' character to the wine, a little herbal, a little funky, savoury and cedar, full-bodied and powerful. There's sweet oak, sweet fruit, vanilla and chocolate, a hint of mint and mulled wine spices. It has the beauty but like a female bodybuilder, it has the muscle and power. 13.2% alc. $45. 20Nov2007.
Very deep, dark and dense. An intriguing high-toned aroma - vanilla comes through with hints of leather and smoky bacon - predominantly savoury with a chocolate overlay - a hint of concentrated blackcurrant too. Like the others in this vertical tasting, acidity hits the palate on entry - high toned, like the aroma suggested. The taste is meaty and savoury with mocha, chocolate, spice and a tarry depth, it has big grippy leathery tannins and a hint of menthol on the finish. Savoury rather than fruity and quite earthy and gamey with dried herbs, lots of smoky oak and a bittersweet finish. A big, bold wine, it still seems very primary and hasn't come together as I thought it would have by now. 13.2% alc. $45. 30May2009.

Kerr Farm P05 Kumeu Pinotage 2005 (sc) Purple red with a touch of black in the centre, this is creamy scented with hints of liquorice and mocha-like resin oak. Dark and savoury, well structured and concentrated, with leather, spice, hints of marmite and some grip to the velvety tannins, there's a flourish of fruit cake cherry and spice on the finish with a lingering juicy aftertaste. Lovely complexity and length with the concentrated, almost liquoricey fruit sweetness winning on the day. Tasted with Jaison Kerr at Kerr Farm (prior to the Pinotage tasting in the afternoon). 11Nov2007.
Purple red, black in the centre. Earthy, savoury on entry with a little bit of grip to the velvety tannins, it's sweet-fruited with hints of mocha with underlying richness and a juicy aftertaste. ***1/2. 13% alc. $20.00. Peter May's Pinotage Tasting: 11Nov2007.

Soljans Gisborne Pinotage 2005 (sc) Ruby garnet in colour, deep, youthful, almost opaque. Savoury to the taste with cherry fruit and vanillin oak, it's medium bodied and flavoursome with a firm, smooth texture. There's a richness emanating from its depth and a juicy succulence to the lingering finish with mulled wine-like spices, anise and subtle orange peel. It's dangerously drinkable at first, but there's a touch of sweetness in there and you soon realise that there's just a little too much. That's where food comes to the rescue. 12.5% alc. $18.95. 15Mar2007.
Dark red with hints of black (and more intense in appearance than the 2006) but mellowing already on the nose and in the palate. Medium-bodied with creamy oak and just a little bit of grip to the velvety tannins, there's a brightness to the spicy character with hints of mocha and juicy cherry and red currant fruits. Clean on the finish, it's a nice quaffer with a hint of sweetness that will appeal to the masses. ***. 12.5% alc. $18.00. Peter May's Pinotage Tasting: 11Nov2007.
After a week in the bottle, it seems more light weight, but it's full of fruit cake and cherry fruit sweetness.

Also: Beyers Truter Pinotage 2005 (Stellenbosch, South Africa) Big in colour - an opaque blackberry blue-red with a shiny glow. Sweet and succulent smelling with mocha to the fore on the nose but a bit of a let down in the palate. There's nuts and mocha and big creamy oak with a savoury, smoky, leathery backbone. A young wine, medium-bodied in style, perhaps it would benefit from decanting to let the juicy, spicy fruitcake flavours emerge. Tasting again later, there's a definitely 'mint sauce' character to the wine, thus a perfect accompaniment to roast lamb. ***1/2. 14% alc. Peter May's Pinotage Tasting: 11Nov2007.

2004 Vintage [top] [index]

Babich East Coast Pinotage Cabernet 2004 (sc) Deeply translucent dark cherry red. Smoky, spicy and aromatic on the nose with a hint of smoke, rosemary and leather. Lighter in the palate than the nose has suggested, it seems one dimensional and simple at first but fleshes out with sweet fruit cake cherries and spice with an underlying leathery meatiness to the savoury, tomato and balsamic finish and a pleasing juiciness to the aftertaste. Great for BBQ's. **1/2. 13% alc. $13.95.Peter May's Pinotage Tasting: 11Nov2007.

Hihi Gisborne Pinotage 2004 (sc) There are still some bright red hues to the deep colour of this dark, savoury, brooding and complex smelling wine. It's big, rich and bold to the taste with juicy red fruits, velvety tannins, a fruit cake nuttiness, hints of marzipan and a sweet leathery savouriness with cherry lingering beautifully on the powerful, full-bodied finish. Lots going on. ****. 13.5% alc. $19.00. Peter May's Pinotage Tasting: 11Nov2007.

Karikari Estate Northland Pinotage 2004 (sc) Densely coloured. Tobacco-like oak, tar and quite concentrated blackcurrant fruit on the nose. Earthy, slightly barnyard flavours with grippy tannins, a hint of chocolate, and dark savoury oak on the finish. It has all the components and is rather sumptuous, but needs a little more time. 13.5% alc. $29.50. 28Aug2005.
Dense blackberry red - deeper and darker than the 2003 tasted alongside it. Smoky vanillin oak - smoked meats - dense - with bittersweet ('Throaties' lozenge) connotations and a vinously sweet overlay too. Quite fascinating and unique in that it is not reminiscent of any other variety. Rich and juicy to the taste with thickset tannins and a smoky savoury depth. Underlying red berry acidity with fruit cake cherry, vanilla, chocolate - a full-bodied, voluptuous style - yet savoury, gamey and meaty with a smoky rusticity to the finish - and those bittersweet red fruits again lingering with a vinous sweetness. Really like this because it is so different. The finish is long and that acidity carries the finish for a phenomenally long time. Menthol tobacco emerges with time. 13.8% alc. $30. 30May2009.

Kerr Farm P04 Kumeu Pinotage 2004(sc) Deep garnet red in colour, it looks like a young Pinot Noir. Savoury and smoky on the nose with vanillin oak, cherry and brambles, it tastes ripe and savoury, soft and creamy with blueberry and cherry fruit, a touch of chocolate, allspice, hints of pepper and a gorgeous flare to the finish where firm acidity makes a statement. Hints of nugget and leather aid and abet the earthy character of the wine, but it’s the berry fruit that wins on the day. Matured in American and French oak. 13.6% alc. $20. 17Feb2007.
Deep red, no purple. Beguilingly perfumed with hints of rose petal, herb tea and leather. Medium bodied with a creamy texture, there's a lovely balance of sweet fruit and savouriness with rose petal, cherry, spice and a long, soft finish. Very pretty. Very tasty. Clean, juicy wine. ***1/2. 13.6% alc. $20.00. Peter May's Pinotage Tasting: 11Nov2007.
Earlier in the day at Kerr Farm from a day old sample. A little 'funk' on the nose and sweet and savoury in the palate. Smooth with soft tannins, a creamy texture and a savoury, gamey character to the finish. 11Nov2007.

Lincoln Heritage Gisborne Pinotage 2004 Showing a little fading to the colour, there's chocolate and mocha on the 'big oak' nose together with spicy leather. It's sweet smelling and rich and ripe tasting - a big mouthful of fruit cake with powerful tannins and a lovely spicy complexity to the lip-smacking sweet finish that has delicious lingering flavours. A fascinating wine, big, ripe and powerful. ****1/2. 14.5% alc. $16.00. Peter May's Pinotage Tasting: 11Nov2007.

Marsden Estate Bay of Islands Pinotage 2004 (D) A sappy, sweet oak aroma with vanilla, mocha and savoury spices welcomes the taster to this well made red wine. It's a little like a big pinot noir and a creamy soft merlot but with additional gaminess to the earthy backbone and all the pinotage traits come through on the finish. It's complex and interesting with the smoky, vanillin oak resurging on the finish and red cherries linger with a pleasing pinotage fruit sweetness. ****. 13% alc. $24.00. Peter May's Pinotage Tasting: 11Nov2007.

Muddy Water Waipara Pinotage 2004 (sc) Dark plummy colour and dark, dusky, earthy, savoury flavours with a slightly feral, gamey influence, soft velvety tannins and a fantastic depth of plum, cherry and brambles providing a juicy, long finish. 15% alc. $28. 19Sep2005.
Deep plummy red. Fruity, savoury, slightly smoky aromas and juicy cherry and plum fruit flavours with a hint of mint, chocolatey oak, lots of spice on the finish and a touch of red liquorice as it lingers. There's a rustic note which balances the juicy sweet fruit and just a slight hint of varnish. Very ripe, rounded and smooth. 15% alc. $29.95. 30Mar2006.

Te Awa Hawke's Bay Pinotage 2004 Seemingly an older wine, the deep red black colour is fading on the edges while the smoky flavour is ripe and earthy with a hint of spice. It tastes like an older, full-bodied pinot noir in some respects with underlying acidity, dried herbs, a touch of tamarillo, hints of stewed plum, a chocolatey richness and a long savoury aftertaste. 13.5% alc. $19.99. 31Oct2007.

2003 Vintage [top] [index]

Karikari Estate Northland Pinotage 2003 (sc) Excellent colour, a full, dense, deep red. There's an earthy leathery note and pinotage rusticity amongst the plum and cherry fruit flavours with firm velvety tannins and lightly savoury oak. With a dry clean finish and good length, put it with the right food and it will work a treat this summer. 13.7% alc. $26. 21Sep2004.
Still a youthful colour with purple hues emanating from its crimson red depth. It smells smoky, savoury and gamey but in the palate the rich, ripe berry fruit declares its presence. The fruit reminds me a little of the cassis of cabernet, together with blueberry and damson plum, luscious vanillin oak and a savoury, gamey undercurrent with a hint of graphite and earth. The tannins are plush and the acidity is beautifully in balance to give this wine an edge that carries it beautifully along. 13.7% alc. $29.50. 11Nov2006. WOTW w/e 19Nov2006.
Dense blackberry red - fading on edges. Smoky vanillin oak and rich fruitcake cherry scents with a hint of marzipan - perhaps a bit of wild blackberry rusticity and smoky charcoal coming in on the end and then a hint of bitter chocolate. In the mouth, there is noticeable upfront acidity with not quite ripe blackberries and raspberries and cherries to the fore. Dense and thick in texture with still firm tannins - it's earthy and savoury with a vanillin oak overlay. Some bottle aged characters now creeping in adding a mellow softness to the finish. Hints of briar roses come through after a while and the texture is fine. Excellent development. 13.7% alc. $30. 30May2009.

Lincoln Heritage Collection Gisborne Pinotage 2003 (sc) Deep ruby in colour with a savoury, cherry and spiced plum aroma, nice use of oak, soft tannins, juicy berry and plum fruit and a savoury, slightly minty, rustic finish with smoky cherry flavours lingering and just a nuance of musk. Partially fermented with wild yeasts and matured in French oak for 12 months. 13.5% alc. $16. 26Nov2004.
Smoky, gamey, leathery aromas and savoury flavour full of leather and tar with red fruit, mocha, spice, grippy mouth coating tannins and some funk to the finish. It's a wine of richness and fruit sweetness, unfortunately marred by the 'over the threshold' appearance of Brett that gives the wine a bitter finish. **1/2. 13.5% alc. $16.00 Peter May's Pinotage Tasting: 11Nov2007.
A few days later: It's definitely got a sheep poo character - and I should know because as I am typing up the notes, the sheep are mowing the back yard and the aromas of the calling cards, and the characters in this wine, are definitely similar. Intriguingly funky for some, for me this bottle is past its best and istreated accordingly.

Muddy Water Waipara Pinotage 2003 (sc) Bright purple red with a deep gemmy translucency. Spicy meaty oak, red berries and tar on the nose with an earthy pinot noir-like nuance. Grainy tannins give a denseness to the texture with good acidity cutting through the tannins to let the spicy fruit show through. Plum, fruit cake spices, mushroom and creamy meaty oak, perhaps some spiced roasted cherry and herbs coming through on the dry finish to leave an earthy, dusky, tarry aftertaste lifted by acidity reminiscent of spiced orange zest. A youthful wine with excellent potential, needing just a little more time to integrate. On the second day it exhibited a chocolate raisin richness to the succulent fruitcake like fruit and spices. 14.8% alcohol, $28. 1Jan2005.

Te Awa Hawkes Bay Pinotage 2003 A deep boysenberry coloured wine that smells of earth, cedar and the blood of freshly killed game. It's mellow and savoury in the palate with plums and boysenberries coming out of its depth, well integrated oak and tannins, a peppery spiciness and an unexpected, sweet musky fragrance as it lingers. 13.5% alc. $29.95. 30Mar2006.

2002 Vintage [top] [index]

Ascension Matakana Pinotage 2002 Crimson purple and dense in colour with berry shortcake, smoked meats and chocolate box on the nose, this wine is packed with mouthfilling cherry and slightly tart tamarillo, fruit cake spices, wood smoke and herbs. A soft, juicy, savoury red that is flavour-filled and easy drinking. $19.95. ****1/2. 20Jul2003.

Babich Winemakers Reserve Hawkes Bay Pinotage 2002 Densely coloured dark plum red, lovely ripe winey flavours with cedary oak and wild berries with a tamarillo-like tartness to the dusky finish. As the wine opens up the sweet vanillin American oak becomes more obvious, leaving a chocolatey richness to the finish. An excellent partner to lamb. 14% $24.95. 6Sep2004.
Deep ruby red with good density. Crammed full of sweet berry fruit and plums, creamy vanillin oak with cinnamon and clove-like spices, soft rounded velvety tannins and a tarry savouriness to the long, ripe full-flavoured finish, this is a very user-friendly, drinkable wine, lots of fruit, lots of oak, nice balanced, ready now. Matured in new and used American oak. 14% alc. $24.95. 1Jan2005.

Lincoln Winemakers Selection Gisborne Pinotage 2002 Meaty, savoury and a little herbal and green the first day so I recorked the bottle and tried it again the following day. What wonders a little bit of aeration can do! Now it has developed into quite a gutsy red with a bitey spiciness, game meats, a hint of liquorice and fruit that reminds me of red grapes being cooked for jam. The lingering finish is a little hot and port-like. $14.95. 4 Jan2003.

Matua Valley Settlers Series 'Tin Shed Red' 2002 A soft, berry-filled, lightly savoury medium-weight blend of Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec with a smoky character that goes so well with smoky food. Made to enjoy at a summer BBQ. $10.95. 18Jan2004.

Muddy Water Waipara Pinotage 2002 Big, robust and ripe, dense in its purple red colour and crammed with flavours of blueberries, loganberries and wild brambly berries with savoury oak, earthy tannins and a meaty richness. The spicy finish is long and creamy with sweet oak, violets and berry fruits lingering. It's a wine that would be perfect with richly flavoured meats such as a big juicy steak, slow braised lamb shanks or venison served with a berry jus. Serve in a big glass for ultimate enjoyment. Screwcap. RRP $27. 14.8%alc. 27Mar2004.

Saints Hawkes Bay Pinotage 2002 Dense red-black in colour. Quite savoury, a little leathery and earthy with firm tannins and plenty of rich red berry fruit leading to a long sustained finish with spicy vanillin oak lingering. Fruity with structure, it shows the quality of the excellent 2002 Hawkes Bay vintage. 13% alc. $16.95. 31Aug2004.

Te Awa Hawkes Bay Pinotage 2002 (c) Deep purple red, bright in its hue but so inky in its depth that in a certain light it seems almost black. Smelling rich and round with a taste reminding me of big, ripe juicy damson plums. A thick substantial wine with soft tannins, sweet spices, smoky nuances and a savoury finish with lots of guts and mouth smacking deliciousness. Cellar to 2010. 15% new French oak. 13% alc. $29.95. 31Dec2004.

2001 Vintage [top] [index]

Ascension 'Primavera' Matakana Pinotage 2001 Released specifically for summer drinking 100% tank fermented but has the 'pinotage' smokiness on the nose. Attractive cherry rose colour. Fresh bright flavour with citrus and game-meats. Almost a rosé but has more depth. The fruit lingers well in an uncomplicated fashion. Nice texture with a touch of berry and pepper spice lingering. 26Oct2001.

Ascension Matakana Pinotage 2001 Fruity but not overly sweet, which makes it good with food. It's savoury and spicy with soft tannins and good length. $19.95. 11May2003.

Kerr Farm Kumeu Pinotage 2001 This vibrant purple coloured wine is a little more savoury, a little more complex and with plenty of flavour on the lingering finish. Very little oak influence and soft ripe tannins but rich savoury characters with lingering flavours of spiced plums. Lovely easy drinking wine with a velvety texure. $16.95. 17Jan2002.
From a bottle that had been open for 6 days. Warm rich mellow oak aromas. Full of vibrant and concentrated cherry and plum in mouth with a dense earthy texture and game meat character and lingering pepper spice. Slightly oxidative due to the open time but still drinking nicely. An absolute must of a wine for pinotage lovers. $17. 26Apr2002

Pukawa Lake Taupo Pinotage 2001 It's a lightly coloured crisp wine with gamey, earthy aromas, sweet savoury flavours, a herbal note, a mouth coating vinous texture and lingering savoury notes. Varietally correct I think Pinotage fans will love this light, refreshing 'enjoy on the deck in the late afternoon' style. I recommend it be served lightly chilled. $17. 2Jan2002.

Saints Marlborough Pinotage 2001 Definitely one of the cruisiest pinot's that I've tasted in a while, undoubtably the best from Marlborough. Seductive in its allure. Deep dark red with ripe blackberry-coloured hues. Smoky and berry scents. Creamy and rich but with that hallmark savoury pinot character - savoury = meaty = venison-like. Rich with a thick velvet texture, concentrated fruit, lovely dusty rich savoury characters. Chocolate too. Deliciously drinkable. 29Aug2002.
Deep and dark in colour, ripe, fruity and savoury with tobacco, leather, liquorice and firm tannins. An earthy wine with a merlotesque quality, sweet American oak and just a hint of mint on the dark, dusky, velvety tannined finish. Youthful for its age with good acidity and lingering fruitcake cherries, it's drinking well now with plenty of life ahead of it. 13.5% alc. $16.95. 31Aug2004.

Soljans Auckland Pinotage 2001 Ruby coloured, medium depth, peppery nose and peppery spice carries through to the palate. Lovely sweet berry fruit with a hint of guava and a nice earthy depth. Reasonably thick-textured wine Good balanced tannins. There is a 'wild' character about the wine, which I really like. 6 Jul2002.

2000 Vintage [top] [index]

Ascension Pinotage 2000. The first Pinotage from Matakana fruit. Vibrantly coloured with smoky, game meat aromas, soft cherry and plum flavours, cinnamon, clove and peppery spice, savoury notes and a touch of sultry earthiness. Light but impressive. Oct 2000.
Fading red with some browning, still quite deep. An older wine with jammy red fruits, fruit cake spices and slightly stewed plum aromas that are soon overpowered by raisined fruit / porty scents. Juicy sweet fruit and silky tannins make for pleasant drinking but it has definitely lost the brightness of youth. Earthy, gamey notes emerge and there's a salty / leathery / spicy brightness to the finish with hints of red liquorice as it lingers. ***1/2. 13% alc. $15.95 11Nov2007.

Babich Winemakers Reserve Pinotage 2000 Vibrant red berry colour. Creamy berry oak aromas (20% new) with a hint of meatiness. Very soft in the mouth. Lovely rounded and balanced. Nice bright red berry flavours with a flash of cherry. Good ripe fruit tannins and structure there's a touch of spicy mocha lingering with cherry and plum on the creamy vanillin finish. More-ish. Long. A little in retail but mainly en-premise. RRP $22. 22Mar2002

Kerr Farm Pinotage 2000 (about $16.95) continues to reaffirm my passion for this interesting grape variety. The wine looks appealing with its bright crimson colour and the earthy rich taste of redcurrant and berry fruit with peppery spice, balanced acidity, smooth tannins and a nuance of brie cheese make it so deliciously drinkable. ***** April 2001

Marsden Estate Bay of Islands Pinotage 2000 Showing a brownish tinge to the deep red hue, this full-bodied wine is juicy, savoury and slightly nutty with a spicy oak backbone, a creaminess to the texture and some grip to the tannins. Complex and interesting but seems to fade quickly in the glass. Has that lovely Pinotage 'sweetness' however, that lingers for ages. Yes, excellent length. ***. 14% alc. $24.00 11Nov2007.

Matua Valley Pinotage Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 A blend of Gisborne pinotage and Hawkes Bay cabernet. This cherry-garnet-coloured, lightly oaked lightweight wine with its floral and berry aromas, cherry and spice fruitiness, rich savoury meatiness, hints of tar, light to medium tannins and a lingering blackcurrant aftertaste, provides an excellent drop at a value for money price. $13. July 2001.

Muddy Water Pinotage 2000 Dark cherry colour with smoky, spicy aromas and upfront pepper, spice and musk in the mouth. It is a little meaty and savoury, as one would expect with pinotage, but with very ripe, bright cherry, raspberry and strawberry fruit, lingering spice and a creamy texture that is almost tending towards chocolate. A big, rich full-bodied wine and with 15.3% alcohol by volume, is definitely not for the faint-hearted. $24-$25. 17Sep2001.

Okahu Estate Shipwreck Bay PCM (Pinotage / Chambourcin / Cabernet Franc Merlot) 2000 is an interesting blend with grape varieties sourced from Northland, Auckland Gisborne and Hawkes Bay. This bright cherry-coloured wine looks light but has plenty of body and flavour in the mouth. There are floral nuances and just a hint of licorice in the aromas and in the mouth there's spicy oak, violets, plums and cherries, a savoury and citrus twist on the finish and the lingering aftertaste of raspberry licorice. $18.95. July 2001.

Pleasant Valley Auckland Pinotage Signature Selection 2000 Dense and dark with opulent American oak scents. Oak at first dominates fruit in the palate but adds sweet vanillin complexities to the underlying spicy raspberry and plum. 17.5/20. 29Aug2001.

Riverside Stirling Pinotage 2000 There's a lovely spicy depth and bright richness to this crimson violet wine that has a smoky charcoal nose and a fragrance that suggests meat, cedar and musk laced with spiced berry fruit. Mouthfilling with soft ripe tannins, creamy vanillin oak, musk, strawberry, cherries and a hint of plum. Apr2002.

Te Awa Farm Longlands Pinotage 2000 (Hawkes Bay) Deep coloured, purple-red. A full-bodied dark and savoury wine with musk, spice and lighter fruit flavours such as strawberry, cherry and boysenberry accompanying game meats and smoky oak. Dry with smooth tannins. Very long in flavour, perhaps a little leathery, but with good varietal definition. Exotic and intriguing. Excellent with a lamb casserole and even better with herb-roasted kumara. Jun2002

1999 Vintage [top] [index]

Kerr Farm Pinotage 1999 Youthful pinky-red, full and rounded with spicy aromas, plum and raspberry fruit, light tannins, a touch of earthiness and a lingering fruitcake-like richness. $16.00. Tasted 08/00. ****

Okahu Estate Paula's Reserve Pinotage 1999 Dark ruby garnet in colour with aromas of berry and a hint of the countryside. At first this ruby garnet-coloured wine seems a bit lean, but quickly fills out with warm, rich flavours of raspberry and plum, then game meats and an earthy rustic tone before sweet cherry, licorice and spice with a savoury acid lift emerge to linger on the finish. While not as plush as the opulent 1998, it is a totally pleasing wine that is definitely moreish. ($29.95). July 2001.

Saints Hawkes Bay Pinotage 1999 A well coloured wine with immediate upfront richness and warmth. Woody aromas, a touch of chocolate creaminess, pepper, mulled wine spices, ripe berry, orange citrus, well-integrated tannins and oak sit alongside that hallmark pinotage meaty rusticity and lingering tarriness. $17. July 2001.

Sanctuary Pinotage / Pinot Noir 1999 Chocolate and vanillin aromas. Lifted, crushed cherries and raspberries in the palate with just a touch of earthiness. Light but with substance. Pretty cherry fruit lingers on the finish. 16.5/20. Nov 2000
Rich, tannic - but there is sweet fruit too.. Seems European in style with a tarry character. Some cherry and plum fruit and spicy oak. Apples!! Sweetish. Drinkable $13.95 6 June 2001

Spencer Hill Pinotage 1999 (Nelson) The first pinotage I have tasted from the Nelson district. Lightish, black cherry / red rose colour. Floral aromas of cherry stone and Kirsch liquer with earthy notes. Sweet fruit, caramel texture, vinous and grapey with a lifted finish. A clean, ripe, round wine with sweetish fruit and good length. Light in style but very pleasant. Toward the Pinot Noir end of the Pinotage spectrum. Tasted 07/00. ****

Yelas Winemakers Auckland Pinotage 1999 Garnet red starting to brick on the edges. A slightly oxidised aroma from this old-fashioned style of Pinotage with sweet smoked meat, musk, stewed plums, baked berries, firm tannins and a sweet and savoury oak finish. Gains plenty of complexity and intrigue after being open for one month. First tasted 29Aug2001 and rated 15.5/20, but rated 17/20 when tasted again from the same bottle on 30Sep2001.

1998 Vintage [top] [index]

Kerr Farm Kumeu Pinotage 1998
Crimson red of a medium to deep opacity with bright pink tints on the rim, it smells of berry fruit backed up by meaty, smoky, and even baked tomato scents and tastes of forest fruits reminiscent of wild cherries, raspberries and plums.. Some earthiness with soft toast, a touch of mint-like herbs and a splash of savoury, there's good, fairly gripping but smooth tannins and on the finish there's lifted fruit and later licorice lingers. This wine is weighty with its medium to full-bodiedness - not at all too rich and overpowering for me. I love this lovely structured, balanced wine which leaves a fresh, vibrant feel in the mouth. It is quite complex as on every taste another character appears. Later there's more savoury, earthy, dusty, meaty characters typical of the pinotage grape. $16. WOTW 25Jul1999.

Montana Saints Pinotage 1998: Sourced from the Korokipo Vineyard in Hawkes Bay. Nice, earthy, berry characters with dusky tannins and just a hint of sweet leather. Lovely sweet fruit emerges contradicted by some tart blueberry. It's soft and rounded and lingers nicely on the palate. A rich example of NZ pinotage. Tasted 09/00 ****

Nobilo Huapai Pinotage 1998 Dense reddy colour, stewed black plums and red berries and chewy, earthy, gamey flavours, soft dusky tannins and a touch of vanillin oak. $14 23/7/2000. ***1/2

Okahu Estate Paula's Pinotage Reserve 1998 Okahu Estate is NZ's most northerly wine producer, near the southern end of Ninety Mile Beach on the west coast of the skinny tip of North Island, New Zealand. The Okahu Estate Paula's Pinotage 1998 is a very deep, rich, blackish red. Creamy aroma of vanilla and spicy mint with a follow-through of musk. Lovely flavours with fruit of plums and blackcurrants. Very balanced from this fantastically ripe vintage. A pleasing, lifted, finish with a flavour of licorice, a touch of spice and just a hint of dustiness. In this very young wine I find the creamy oak overpowering at this stage, but this will integrate well, with a little time, in my opinion. Alcohol 13.5%, All American oak with a 30% new component. In barrel for 16 months. Recommended retail $NZ29.95. Tasted 10/99 *****
This is the first release of a 100% pinotage for the winery (although they have done quite well with shiraz in this hot climate). The pinotage was previously blended in with other grapes and their light and spicy Pinotage Chambourcin Merlot is an attractive wine. 12/00 ***1/2
A "Paula's Pinotage" was made in 1999 and then the vines were dug out and moved further up the road as the land was needed to plant more shiraz. So there will not be another Pinotage from these vines until 2003 or so.

Te Awa Farm Longlands Pinotage 1998 ($22) is from and made by Jenny Dobson, who spent some years in France. It is a brooding wine with plummy fruit and nutty, earthy, dusty characters, flashes of smoke, tar, sweet leather and olive. Ripe and round with a thick, almost chewy texture, it is a wonderful example of the intrigue of this grape and is, perhaps, the best Pinotage I've ever tasted from New Zealand. Tasted 06/00.
A full-bodied wine of some intrigue, medium dense in colour with warm red hues. A brooding wine with plummy fruit and nutty, earthy, dusty characters, flashes of smoke, tar, sweet leather and olive, it has a touch of faint orange-citrus sweetness emerging after the wine is swallowed. Ripe and round, with a thick, almost chewy texture and soft tannins, the classy French oak gives a Bordeaux-like impression at the end, while earthy, cherry, berry flavours linger. About $21. WOTW 25Jun2000.

Also: Soljans Sienna Methode Traditionelle Rouge Gisborne fruit, predominantly 1998 vintage, and released in 2002, this 100% Pinotage is showing some browning to the opaque, red black colour. Earthy and gamey on the nose with hints of bacon, there's still a good attack of fizz in the savoury, leathery and meaty palate. It has lost its upfront fruitiness but still has plenty of spice and punch with a cherry sweetness emerging at the end. Smoky and overall reasonably balanced and dry. ***. 13.5% alc. $11.95 (when purchased). Peter May's Pinotage Tasting: 11Nov2007.

Older Vintages [top] [index]

Matua Valley 1997 Pinotage/Cabernet: A blend of 75% Pinotage grown in Gisborne and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon grown in Hawkes Bay, this wine has very closed aromas. Cherry flavours in the palate with a touch of dusky, peppery spice. Good acidity, perhaps a hint of stalkiness - from the Cabernet Sauvignon, I guess. Full and warm with a berry, rather than cherry finish and a touch of earthiness reminiscent of pinot noir on the lingering finish. This wine is made in a 'drink now' style that will suit a lot of drinkers over the New Zealand summer of 1998/1999. ***1/2
Tasted again in January 1999, and lots of savoury characters emerging as the wine improves with bottle age. Rating lifted to **** for its soft fruity style being a perfect accompaniment to the summer BBQ. (17/1/99)

Nobilo Huapai Valley Pinotage 1994 (Auckland) Quite a youthful, medium colour on the pinky side of red and a meaty, savoury flavour with a little tarry earthiness (white mushroom), a nice touch of raspberry fruit, soft tannins and almost a warm blood-like character on the finish flaring with the good acidity in the wine. I like the texture and the lingering flavour is sweet and vinous. I can't detect any leather characters at all and to me the oak (it would have been old oak, I think) is totally integrated, although it adds to the textural complexity. There is a character in the wine that I find in old-style NZ reds - a bit of what I call the 'NZ pong" - a kind of sweet vinous rusticity. Very good. Tasted 9 Jan 2001.
Salty savoury aromas with an 'old wine' character to hint of its agem which totally belies the juicy sweet-fruited flavour - is this the sweetness of the Pinotage fruit that asserts itself with some age. Thought it old, but silky and well integrated. Never would have guessed it was 13 years old. I could have enjoyed this with dinner if it had been the only choice. ***. 12% alc. 11Nov2007.

[2007] [2006] [2005] [2004] [2003] [2002] [2001] [2000] [1999] [1998] [older] [index]

Index to Varietal Tastings
Chardonnay Gewurztraminer
Pinot Gris Sauvignon Blanc Other Whites
Bubblies Sweeties Pinks
Cabernet dominant Merlot dominant Pinotage
Pinot Noir Shiraz Other Reds

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