Stellenzicht Cellarmaster’s Release No Added Sulphites Pinotage 2009

By , 30 March 2012




Stellenzicht in Stellenbosch has extended its no sulphites-added collection of Cellarmaster’s Release wines with a Pinotage 2009 joining the Petit Verdot 2008 and Chardonnay 2009. The Pinotage is sweet, rich and broad with moderate acidity. There’s plenty of dark cherry fruit but also some curious earthy, malty notes. Alcohol is of course an inherent preservative in wine and this baby has plenty of it, the abv on the back label stated as 16%.  It’s crazy-assed stuff and I have absolutely no idea who would buy it in meaningful quantities (price is R125 a bottle) but I still kinda like it. Score: 15/20.


5 comment(s)

  • Will31 March 2012

    Hey Christian. Hats off to Mr Webber! Its brave stuff to make a Pinotage without adding sulfur. But the alcohol obviously helps preserving this wine. How long do you think it will last in the bottle though?…that is without developing any more funky notes. Adding to that – do you think Saffer consumers are sensitive to high alcohol wines? Dont you think it reflects a certain gustiness from winemakers that make big wines and not follow the rest of the sheep with alcohol levels below the 14% mark…? Cheerio and thanks for the great BLOG! Bottoms up!

  • Guy Webber2 April 2012

    Hi Will & Christian.Unfortunately you guys give me more credit than is due when considering the fact that the alcohol content is high especially in order to act as a preservative in the absence of sulphites – this is not quite correct as it is more by default than by design!
    When making a wine like this without any sulphites (it has ZERO btw), you effectively rule out any possibilities of blending, fining, etc. as these are simply out of the question due to the risks involved. The decision is made in the vineyard at the time of picking and, after that, you simply do what you can to preserve the wine through fermentation, maturation and into the bottle. If the analyses then show up a 16% abv, well then that’s what it is.
    As for how many people are going to buy it in “meaningful quantities”, with the size of the total production and the very specific nature of the wine, an order for six bottles becomes meaningful!
    Regarding the wines ability to last, our experience with the 2007 and 2008 NAS Petit Verdot shows that these wines are still doing exceptionally well – possibly even getting better with time. Even the 2008, 2009 and 2010 NAS Chardonnays are still very much alive!
    What I’ve learnt about making wine since starting the NAS wines in 2007 is that sulphites give us a vast amount of security in what we do – they neither “ensure” nor “dictate” the quality of the wines getting to the bottle.

  • Christian2 April 2012

    Will – appropriate alcohol levels on SA wine is a topic which I think deserves a lot more debate. In this regard, see the comments to do with my recent posting on Kleine Zalze Familly Reserve Shiraz 2007: Guy – thanks for your in-depth comment on the NAS Pinotage 2009. I guess my biggest misgiving about low sulphur wines is the (much) increased bottle variation that happens across a batch.

  • Christian4 April 2012

    Just to add an edge to the debate, this wine is getting better the longer it is open…

  • Guy Webber4 April 2012

    “Getting better the longer it is open” is something which we’ve experienced on both the Chardonnay and PV. When we first presented these two wines at the LIWTF, we used the first bottle for the first two days and then opened the second bottle on the third day – just to find that we preferred the first bottle. I’m not convinced about your contention about increased bottle variation – can’t think of any reason for this to be so unless there are closure issues. The DIAM 10’s which we used (at great expense) are virtually the perfect closure (I believe) and we’ve certainly not found variations. Bottle variation is something which needs to be “looked for” by tasting a number of the same batch all at one time – “variations” observed over time are ineviatably more inclined to be an influence of the taster and not the tasted.

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