We are proud to make our 20th vintage of this unusually classically styled, clay-grown Hemel-en-Aaarde Valley wine from South Africa’s unique grape Pinotage, available for sale.
2014 was an unusual vintage for South Africa and the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley in particular, with cool growing conditions resulting in full phenolic ripeness at lower alcohol levels than usual. In an area already known for more “European” styling, the vintage added yet further to this.
Our 2014 shows a beautiful tightness and vibrancy with fine-grained “European” style grape tannins and minerality. The fruit profile is a particularly pure mix of dark and red wild berries that mingles well with our characteristic spiciness. In recent years we have been taking steps to enhance the pristine mineral character and purity of our Pinotage on release, and have worked hard to maintain the air-exchange benefits of good clean French oak, without any obvious flavour and aromatic influences from wood. This has involved using more “Blonde” barrels (essentially untoasted) and a slow move to larger format barrels.
Since 2004, all our Pinotage grapes have been sourced from our own Hemel-en-Aarde Valley vineyards on north to north-east facing stony, extremely clay-rich Bokkeveld Shale-derived soils. Pinotage grown in lighter structured soils is very different in style and not what we are looking for. After all, our founding mission in 1994 was to redefine Pinotage with a tighter, brighter more classically styled wine.
It has been particularly rewarding to see the growing local and international interest in Pinotage. After decades of rather narrow-minded automatic criticism of Pinotage overall, by a significant community within the wine industry worldwide, sentiment has changed and the serious wine community are increasingly excited by the grape. In the past a single bad glass of Pinotage caused a drinker to write-off the variety. A bad glass of Cabernet or Shiraz results in a criticism of the winemaking or grape source, but not the variety – courtesy of the French and others who have demonstrated their merits over the years. For Pinotage the hard work of building the brand value of the variety has been left to a much smaller group working to this end over a much shorter period of time. We believe strongly that in the right soils and sites, Pinotage is capable of greatness. Great Pinotage is a true South African addition to the world of fine wine and the quest to produce it is a worthy one.
Southern Right Pinotage has certainly succeeded over the years in demonstrating the merits of the variety:
It has been rated by the Editor of Decanter as one of the Top 10 Red Wines in South Africa and has been one of the Editors’ most exciting new wines in the Wine Spectator. It has beenTop of the Category in South Africa’s Wine Magazine and a Decanter Gold Medal winner. It has achieved scores of 90 and above in The Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate, Wine Enthusiast, International Wine Cellar and Anthony Dias Blue Reviews.
This is what two leading tasters for the South African wine category have said about Southern Right Pinotage for the previous two vintages:
“A ripe stylish red, with polished edges and a core of blackberry, plum and anise flavours, backed by well integrated toast. The solid finish features a nice graphite note. Well done for the varietal.” James Molesworth, Wine Spectator – Pinotage 2013
“There is clearly more intensity on the nose with focused black cherry and raspberry scents shooting from the glass. The palate is medium-bodied, silky smooth in the mouth with wonderful acidity, crisp and focused with great tension and minerality (yes ….even on a Pinotage!) toward the finish. This is about as good as this grape variety gets.” Neal Martin, Wine Advocate – Pinotage 2013
“Succulent cherry and blackberry flavours are tightly stitched, followed by a mouthwatering anise note on the finish. Not big, but it has a purity and freshness atypical of most Pinotages.” James Molesworth, Wine Spectator – Pinotage 2012
“It has a clean and fresh bouquet with mulberry, raspberry and a touch of cassis developing in the glass, all with fine delineation. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins: quite succulent in the mouth but with very good acidity and plenty of freshness and tension on the finish. This is one of South Africa’s finest Pinotages (until you get to the succeeding vintage).” Neal Martin, Wine Advocate – Pinotage 2012
We hope you enjoy our 2014 and my team and I look forward to seeing you on Southern Right if you are in the area.
All the best!