The best red wine in South Africa?
By Christian Eedes, 12 May 2016
A massive endorsement for Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage 2014 which has just come top in the “SA Luxury Red Wine Taste-Off” organised by Wine Cellar. Over the past two days, the retailer organised public tastings featuring 12 local red wines priced between R735 and R2 450 a bottle, a ticket to participate costing R650 per person. The wines were served in random order and blind-tasted first by an audience of some 40 people in Johannesburg on Tuesday and then by a similar-sized audience in Cape Town yesterday.
Guests were asked to rank the wines in order of most to least preferred and the overall top three were:
1. Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage 2014
2. De Toren Book XVII 2013
3. Vilafonté Series C 2013
Overall bottom three were:
10. Sadie Columella 2013
11. Delaire Graff Laurence Graff Reserve 2012
12. Simonsig The Garland 2009
Here’s how I rated the full line-up:
1. Simonsig The Garland 2009 – 94/100
2.= Mullineux Schist Syrah 2013 – 93/100
2.= Sadie Family Columella 2013 – 93/100
2.= Vilafonté Series C 2013 – 93/100
5.= Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage 2014 – 92/100
5.= MR de Compostella 2013 – 92/100
5.= Neil Ellis Webb Ellis 2010 – 92/100
8.= Delaire Graff Laurence Graff Reserve 2012 – 91/100
8.= De Toren Book XVII 2013 – 91/100
10.= Rust en Vrede 1694 Classification 2013 – 89/100
10.= La Motte Hanneli R 2011 – 89/100
12. Rijks 888 Pinotage 2010 – 86/100
1. Hooray for Pinotage – the Kanonkop Black Label is emerging as SA’s answer to Spain’s Vega Scilia or Portugal’s Barca Velha, which is to say wines every serious wine enthusiasts has to try at least once in his life.
2. Sweet and smooth trumps savoury and grippy. Look at the three wines to come bottom overall (two straight Cabs from Delaire Graff and Simonsig and the not at all ingratiating Columella) and you have to conclude that the well-heeled punter generally doesn’t want anything too challenging.
3. Making sense of pyrazines is tricky. The Cabernet Franc-driven MR de Compostella has plenty of herbal character and when tasted next to other South African wines appears wonderfully fresh but next to Medoc, it can look too green.
4. The market is not monolithic. The 12 producers are clearly not all targeting the same market segment and after a point, it’s not that helpful to compare them (the lovely Mullineux Schist seemed almost underdone in the above context). What is commendable is that there was some very sophisticated winemaking in evidence just about across the board.
5. Price is relative. The line-up contains some of South Africa’s most serious wines which are still no way near the top-end of the international market. Nothing’s too dear presuming you’ve got the disposable income…
The Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage 2014 is available from Wine Cellar at R1 450 a bottle.
Find our South African wine ratings database here.