Archive for the ‘Spice Route’ Category

2007 Spice Route Pinotage

08 Jul

This week’s second Pinotage, a 2007 Spice Route Pinotage, hails from the Swartland area of the country’s West Coast winemaking region.  The grapes are dry-farmed (meaning no irrigation is used), which stresses the vines into producing fewer berries but encourages greater concentration of flavors.

The strategy pays off well here, creating a wine full of spice and dark berries along with some subtle oak and a tinge of leather.  Unlike the Diemersfontein Pinotage, this wine doesn’t hit you over the head with the standard Pinotage aroma and flavor of overripe bananas (a fact that did not go unnoticed by J, who pretty much hated the Diemersfontein), and there’s a really nice balance between the tannic structure and the juicy fruit. 

J and I drank this wine with a mustard-rubbed rib eye steak, some grill-roasted shallots, and asparagus.  The sweet, slightly caramelized yet still spicy shallots, together with tang of the mustard and the juicy umami of the steak were an excellent counterpoint to the juicy fruit and spice in the wine.  Not a perfect pairing (especially with the asparagus, which threw things off a bit for me), but pretty delicious nonetheless.

If you’d like to give the 2007 Spice Route Pinotage a shot yourself, you can find it at for $19.99/bottle.

3.5 corks popped!



Week 45: South African Pinotage

06 Jul

It’s Week 45 of the CorkPopper Project already (yikes!), which means it’s my last week exploring the world of South Africa’s wine.  This week, I’ll be focusing on Pinotage, a hybrid grape created in 1925 when Professor A.L. Perold of Stellenbosch University crossed Pinot Noir and Cinsaut (also known as Hermitage in South Africa).  For many years, Pinotage has had a reputation of being a funky and unpredictable grape that produces wines that smell of overripe bananas and acetone.  And while Pinotage in the hands of a mediocre winemaker can certainly be unpleasant and, dare I say, undrinkable, there are, indeed, South African winemakers who have proven that it is not actually an entirely doomed varietal.  Here’s hoping I found wines from three winemakers that fall into the latter category.

First, we have a 2008 Diemersfontein Pinotage, which is available for $19.99/bottle at K&L Wine Merchants

Second, I'll be tasting a 2007 Spice Route Pinotage, which earned 89 points from Wine Spectator and is available at for $19.99/bottle

Finally, I'll be trying a 2007 Southern Right Pinotage, which garnered 90 points from Wine Spectator and is available at K&L Wine Merchants for $21.99/bottle.


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