Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage 2020

By , 9 November 2022



Whereas production of the standard-label Pinotage 2020 (R490 a bottle) from Stellenbosch property Kanonkop is not small at 78 000 bottles, the more deluxe Black Label 2020 (R2 200 a bottle) is a relatively modest 6 900 bottles.

Grapes for Black Label come from a 1953 vineyard on decomposed granite, the 2020 undergoing maturation for 18 months in 225-litre French oak barrels, 100% new. The nose is currently very primary with floral perfume preceding cherries, plums, chocolate and spice while the palate is rich and smooth-textured – lots of luscious, sweet fruit, soft acidity and fine tannins, the finish gently savoury. Deeper and more layered than the standard label.

CE’s rating: 94/100.

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5 comment(s)

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    Greg Sherwood | 10 November 2022

    For what it’s worth, I think I agree with Tim here. Tasted the full 13 wine vertical here in London a few months ago and will do so again tomorrow with 8 clients. Will recheck my scores and notes and publish after tomorrows tasting. But I can tell you I scored the beautiful 2019 a solid 97 points… not as Pinotage but in the context of a very well made fine wine. I have not tasted the 2020 but I expect I will rate the wine in the 95 to 97 point arena again. Again, with your 94, it just does not differentiate enough for other producers wines (and other lesser Black Label vintages to some extent) which are clearly not as good. Black label in a good year is an impressive creation worthy of critical praise. While 94 is indeed a smart score, it does not convey the quality that is actually in a bottle of Black Label.

    Tim James | 9 November 2022

    If I were in a scoring mood, I’d give this vintage a much higher score. It seems to me a magnificent wine. And if I say “rather burgundian” that is a descriptive rather than a quality association, as this wine needs no foreign association to lend it credibility. A bewilderingly good advertisement for what pinotage is capable of.

      Christian Eedes | 10 November 2022

      Hi Tim, It would be interesting to taste the 2020 side by side with the 2019 – both have pHs of over 4 and consequently have plenty of texture and mid-palate but the 2019 has an alcohol of 13.59% compared to 14.36% in the case of the 2020 making the former that tiny bit more elegant for me. Tasting what turned out to be the 2019 blind during judging for this year’s IWSC, I had to convince the international judges that it was legitimate for a top-end Pinotage to have an alcohol of under 14% – I’m happy to say it went on to win gold.

        Tim James | 10 November 2022

        You’re possibly right about the elegance of 2019 being greater, but I’m not sure that comparing them in that way is useful in deciding on a score (though it would help in deciding which you prefer). I must say that elegance, as I understand it, is not something that seems a vital criterion for Black Label. Any more than for, say, MR de Compostella 2020, which you’ve just scored 96 points (I haven’t tasted it). I’d guess that MR has at least as high an alcohol level as Black Label 2020. Incidentally, you refer to an IWSC tasting of the 2019 being blind – yet you knew what the alcohol level was? And do IWSC panels really disqualify a wine for a statistic like that?

          Christian Eedes | 10 November 2022

          I’m sure that our understanding of “elegance” is much the same and my instinct is that BL 2020, while very good, is ultimately too concentrated and essentially sweet, with the result that its lacks poise which surely IS a criterion for deciding a score. MR 2020 is certainly not shy but I would contend that it only pertains indirectly to this discussion in that it’s Cape Bordeaux and not Pinotage.

          As for my IWSC experience, it should be noted that it’s generally not uncommon for alcohols to be disclosed to panel members. The debate about the BL 2019 was that on the occasion in question it appeared relatively “light” next to some even more powerful examples that were also on the table!

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