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.