And now for something completely different: A lesson in Pinotage from KWV winemaker

Friday, 11 November, 2022

Sometimes being on a lot of PR mailing lists can bear unexpected fruits. The fruit in this case is grapes. But not just any grapes, we were treated to a lesson from KWV winemaker Izele van Blerk about the history of pinotage and its creator, Professor Perold.

As Jono le Feuvre explained to us there are some interesting cross overs between the wine and coffee industries, and we were thrilled to learn more about the growing, processing and history of this proudly South African grape.

Izele has been with KWV for 13 years and having been responsible for almost every sector of the business, her focus now is on the premium KWV Mentors Range and the Perold is the one that most pays tribute to its namesakes' contribution to the KWV legacy.

He was responsible for bringing over a 100 European grape varietals to South Africa, which has made our industry extremely diverse.

I asked how a Pinot Noir and a Cinsault, both traditionally light and juicy in character, gave birth to the full-bodied and rich Pinotage, it is processing after the fact, are Pinotage grapes actually similar to their original strains and Izele's analogy was classic.

"I get asked this question a lot and I tell people sometimes you look at parents and then you look at their child and you wonder where the heck did that come from?! And that's how it is with Pinotage. The grapes are completely different. Crazy!"

Pinotage is the hero of the Perold blend and as not a big fan of most pinotages, I was a tad concerned, but I had absolutely nothing to be worried about.

In my first vertical tasting, we had the opportunity to taste the 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2019 Magnum, alongside each other.

All the vintages tasted slightly different - the 2017 being a year of the drought in Cape Town, this had a steely, more reserved, subtle flavour, balanced and medium bodied, which Izele said will age very well for future drinking.  The 2018 tasted much more full bodied and robust, with hints of that traditional pinotage flavour coming through. 

Izele - KWVs premium wine winemaker shares her philisophies on making wine in homage to Dr. Perold.

The 2019 tasting was very interesting. First we tasted the regular release which was similar to, but more refined than the 2018  - very delicious - and then against that the same 2019, except that 300 litres had been kept over by Izele, blended, put back into barrel and matured in the barrels for an additional 6 months. This was then exclusively bottled into 200 magnums only!

The result was exceptional! 

We enjoyed all of these wines, paired with the chef's selection of meals from the Cafe La Plage, in Umhlanga in the luxury of the Opera Glass House, over looking the Indian Ocean!

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