Oct 17, 2013

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My Thoughts on Pinotage are Forever Changed: Lion’s Drift Pinotage 2009

LD PinotageThe first time I tried Pinotage (a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut), I was admittedly confused.  It wasn’t at all what I expected.  I was looking for specific characteristics; such as, cherries, red berries, smoke and earth.  Instead I experienced bananas, band-aids and paint – I was awfully disappointed.

Pinotage is South Africa’s signature varietal, so I had high hopes – especially since other South African wines I had tried left impressive lasting memories with their pleasant aromas, nice acidity, great balance and solid structure.  My thoughts on Pinotage went from hopeful to bleh.

My thoughts, however, were forever changed when I popped the cork on Silkbush Mountain Vineyards Lion’s Drift 2009 Pinotage.  Gorgeous alluring aromas of dark berries were highlighted by smoky spices, caramel and a touch of woodsy earth. On the palate, silky, seamless waves of berries, earth and vanilla rolled from the front of the palate to the  back, ending with a slightly smoky finish with excellent acidity and structure.  I loved the supple, lush tannins.  My reservations on the Pinotage varietal instantly became a thing of the very far distant past – the 2009 Lion’s Drift was absolutely outstanding.  My interest in Pinotage has piqued, and I’m looking forward to trying many more.

Silkbush Mountain Vineyards, located in the Breedekloof appellation of South Africa’s Western Cape, is one of the areas most awarded wineries – and I can see why.  In addition to their Pinotage, I recently tried their 2012 Viognier, easily making its way onto my list of Extraordinary White Wines of the World.  Silkbush’s winemaker, Bennie Wannenberg, is well-known for his winemaking talents and highly acclaimed Pinotages, but he certainly makes a fine Viognier, as well.  With 341 acres of sloped hillsides that go up to 2,100 feet above sea level, about 215 acres are under vine.  The terroir offers rocky soils, plenty of water and cool nights. The varietals that thrive in the Silkbush vineyards include Bordeaux’s noble red grapes, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Semillon and, of course, Pinotage.

If finding this Pinotage is tough at the local wine shop, check out cape-ardor.com, and it can be purchased for just $16.99 (at the time this article was written), and it ships from California.  It’s worth every penny, wine lovers.

Check out silkbush.com 


*This wine was provided to me for review purposes.