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Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage 2011

The Big Kahuna.

While I’m broadly tolerant of biodynamics in that it promotes greater sensitivity to grape growing and winemaking, I think the lunar tasting calendar is pushing it. Even so, I found the four vintages of Black Label Pinotage on show at Kanonkop last night particularly earthy and tannic, far more so than I recall the wine being so previously, and guess what? Yesterday was a “root day”, supposedly the worst sort of day for tasting.

The Black Label Pinotage is made from a single block of bush vines planted in 1953 and is the most expensive offering from this renowned property, the newly released 2011 going for R1 200 a bottle.

Scores and tasting notes as follows:
2006: 16.5/20
Black cherry, malt and the first signs of development. Rich and broad, moderate acidity, powdery tannins. Slight baked quality and quite hot on the finish.

2008: 17.5/20
Slightly less full and the best fruit integrity of the line-up. Fresh acidity, appropriate tannic grip. Perhaps the most true to the property.

2010: 18/20
Red and black fruit, toasty oak, bright acidity, firm but fine tannins. Powerful yet balanced. Very impressive.

2011: 17/20
17 months in French oak, 100% new. Very shy on the nose. Overt oak on the palate – notes of vanilla, coffee and spice – but also sweet plum and cherry. Full bodied, rich and dense with soft acidity and chunky tannins.

There’s something imposing about the Black Label but I do wonder just a little why anybody would buy it when the standard label 2010 rated 5 Stars in Platter’s 2013 is available for R210 a bottle.


  1. I agree: the price difference is disproportionate. The major factors at play here are exclusivity and scarceness. It can also be argued that the Black Label will mature better, due to things like the age of the vines and the tiny yield. The intensity is also pretty impressive – I had a proper glass of the 2010 with dinner on Tuesday (the Jhb tasting was on Monday) and it really is imposing stuff. I’m oblivious to the lunar calendar, but there was certainly no problem with expression of fruit intensity on Monday or Tuesday!  

  2. Christian – I was on the panel that did the lunar taste test earlier this year.  I was also a non believer until then.  There is most certainly a difference in how a wine shows on the different lunar calendar days.  Without a doubt.  

    I have to agree with your assessments on last night’s wines. 2008 was my favourite of the 4 Black Labels, because it reminded me most of Kanonkop and had a bit more elegance than the other 3.  The reason I don’t particularly enjoy Pinotage is that they are often clumsy, big, heavy and in your face wines, when I think the best examples are elegant and fine.  These Black Labels are show stoppers and I would much rather spend a third of the cash and buy a Paul Sauer if I wanted something big.

  3. I noticed the same price/rating difference in Eben Sadie’s wines.  His second label Sequillo (just over a R100/bottle) gets the same rating as his Columella and Palladius.  How do you justify that?  My only reason why I would drop R3600 on a case of Columella (because you can’t buy one bottle only from the farm) is probably the icon value of the wine and the fact that it is produced in very limited quantities and will go a little bit further as a talking point over dinner.  

  4. Hi Christian,

    How was the 2011 vintage for pinotage in Stellenbosch? I’ve got a really good offer for the standard K’kop pinotage 2011, just wondering whether to back up the truck and buy a mountainload or not. Many thanks.


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