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The Bernard Series Bush Vine Pinotage 2010

Set to take the world by storm?

On the eve of Cape Wine of 2012, the question has to be posed: can we get the world to take top-end Pinotage seriously?

The Bernard Series Bush Vine Pinotage 2010 recently won the international trophy for best red single varietal over £10 at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2012 – no mean achievement with the competition, now in its ninth year, attracting more than 14 000 entries from over 47 countries and less than 0.2% of entries awarded the ultimate prize of an international trophy.

So how does the wine really stack up? Grapes used come from old, dry-land vineyards in Darling and Bottelary, Stellenbosch and the wine was fermented in open-top barrels before being matured for 12 months in French oak, 50% new. Expect it to retail for around R170 a bottle.

Medium to full bodied in structure, there’s oak on nose and palate. It’s not unattractive but impossible to ignore – vanilla and spice and all things, um, nice.  Underneath this all, there’s pure red cherry fruit and fresh acidity while the finish is pleasing dry. It’s more than competently made but by the same token not exactly unforgettable and I’d score it 16/20.

Worth noting that Bernard Series Bush Vine 2010 is merely repeating the feat of the Kaapzicht Steytler 2006 which won the same accolade at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2009. It’s easy beating up on Pinotage but wines made from this variety do seem to prevail in the most unlikely circumstances.

There’s some good stuff out there right now: Tokara 2010 is unashamedly flamboyant while Flagstone Time Manner Place 2010 is close to immaculate especially in terms of how well-crafted it is. Can Pinotage approach the extraordinary? I think Kankop 2009 and 2010 come close.  We’ll see how the international media and trade feel very shortly.


  1. Hi Christian. Have had this wine for some time now from Majestic in the UK. I think his wine delivers much more than you have given it credit and definitely marks at 17+ on my charts which very often seems to reflect your tastes strangely enough but not this time out. A courageous attempt at making a classy Pinotage – well done.

    • Hi Shane, I tasted the wine immediately after Flagstone Time Manner Place 2010 and I thought the Flagstone wine broke barriers where The Bernard Series played it safe without either wine being 5 Stars (18+/20, 93+/100). Which poses the question is any contemporary Pinotage capable of a 5-Star rating? Sadly, I don’t think there’s a forum right now where the very best come up against each other.

  2. Hi Christian, I supect you are correct in questioning whether the variety is capable of reaching the highest level in wine evaluation. I have yet to taste a pinotage that reached the highest level myself. Bold, often heavily extracted wines often score better than more lightly extracted counterparts when tasted together. The question I often find useful to ask myself is which of the wines I could sit down with and finish the bottle on my own.


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