Thursday, August 09, 2018

Tasting the Absa Top 10 Pinotage Finalists at the Cullinan, Cape Town

We were invited to taste this year’s top 20 Pinotages this week. These are the competition finalists and the winning Top 10 will be announced at an awards lunch on the 15th of August in Stellenbosch The tasting was held at the Cullinan Hotel
The tasting would be blind, and our highest scores would be collated by the organisers. The person who selected the highest number of top 10 winners from the twenty wines will win a prize
20 glasses of Pinotage to taste. There were 161 entries tasted, 20 of which were finalists. The judges were Neil Ellis (Convenor) François Haasbroek, Nomonde Kubheka, François Rautenbach and Samarie Smith
Johan Schwartz, Pinotage Association Marketing Manager,
instructs us how to do the tasting and fill out the forms
All in a nice quiet room
Etienne Louw, Pinotage Association committee member, was also present
The tasting card
Samarie Smith told us that 2016 was a difficult year for wineries; of the 2017 entries some are too early to judge, they need to open. There is a huge variety of styles, and some wines caused serious debate amongst the judges. Some winemakers love oak, but some luscious fruit was attacked by oak. Dull palates on some wines, others were rich, ripe and opulent (certainly a style we prefer). Big is acceptable, overbearing is not. The ripeness varied from delicate to robust. Interesting and new; musk, rose petal and honeycomb were found on some, should they be there? Brett and volatile acidity should be looked at. Oxidation on some wines is a disadvantage, harsh oak tannins are bad. Complexity, good intensity, primary fruit, balance, herbs, structure; all these points were discussed amongst the judges. And we were told that the museum class was impressive and that one of them one is an ambassador for Pinotage. There were fewer issues of oxidative wines here. It is a profound, world class group
Glasses at the end of the tasting. We do not need to taste much wine for our assessments. Much of it goes into spittoons
Then when the tasting was finished and the results logged, the wines we had tasted were revealed. Not many surprises. The list of Finalists and Museum class Finalists can be seen on the Pinotage Association website
Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rosé, made from Pinot noir, Pinotage and Pinot meuniere, was provided at the end to refresh our tired palates. It was very welcome and very much enjoyed
They had laid on a huge spread for us after the tasting. Duck salad
Mini sliders
Pork buns
and many more, some in bains marie. Difficult to do it all justice

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