Uiterwyk Top of the Hill Pinotage 1996
By Christian Eedes, 21 February 2011
This wine was the 1998 winner in Wine magazine’s Pinotage Champion of the Year competition and also received 5 Stars in the 1999 edition of Platter’s. It was the first solo bottling from a vineyard that was then 45 years old, and it spent 22 months in French oak, 100% new.
Drinking it 15 years on from vintage, the wine proved good but somewhat rustic. Particularly earthy aromas on the nose suggested that the wine might be past its best but the fruit on the palate was surprisingly intact, the wine showing flavours of red and black cherry. The tannins were what was most conspicuous being coarse and rather hard, typical of Pinotage of that era.
Though I didn’t have much time for Pinotage ten or so years ago, I recently wrote an article for UK magazine Decanter urging wine enthusiasts to take a fresh look at the wines which have emerged in recent years (see here). It’s not that I’ve flip-flopped on the issue but rather that I think top-end Pinotage has undergone a huge amount of refinement during the period in question. If it hadn’t then we might as well all pack up and go home.