As meticulously crafted as fine art, a bottle of Pinotage carries a story of inspiration, struggle, and refinement, coming together for a moment of delight.
The seed of creativity can sprout for many reasons: divine intervention, the muses, or plain curiosity. Whatever inspired Professor Abraham Izak Perold to cross the humble Hermitage with the noble Pinot Noir nearly a century ago, it sparked a movement that led to some of the finest Pinotage we get to enjoy today.
The story of this uniquely South African cultivar was as turbulent as any artistic endeavour. It required the dedication, the obsession even, of a determined group of winemakers to unravel the intricacies of the grape and reveal its full potential.
Together they rise
The success of Pinotage would not have been possible without strong partnerships. On the one hand, winemakers banded together, sharing their learnings to improve the industry as a whole. On the other hand, The Pinotage Association, sponsored by Absa, would work to improve the excellence of the cultivar, building knowledge and skills, and changing the perception of Pinotage in the market.
Prominent figures like Beyers Truter and Abrie Beeslaar would help drive this renaissance within the South African wine industry. In the 1990s, South Africa was dominated by large corporate cellars producing bulk wines. From 1995, this began to shift to finely crafted, estate-driven wines. Pinotage required this level of attention in order to flourish.
Pinotage is one of the most difficult varieties to work with and that forced us to look at the grape in a more analytical way. Today we get much purer, cleaner Pinotage where the fruit is the primary focus of the wine.
Abrie Beeslaar, Executive Member of the Pinotage Association and Winemaker at Kanonkop in the Stellenbosch Wine Valley
Through continuous experimentation and refinement, these winemakers were able to elevate Pinotage to a level that would earn esteem from connoisseurs around the world. Research and knowledge are still being transferred to new winemakers through the efforts of the Pinotage Association.
We decided that the highlights and the low points should be shared with the younger generation of vini- and viticulturists so that they could perform much better and make a good Pinotage in the bottle, as well as grapes in the vineyards. These days, winemakers are more in sync with their terroir and the wines show much more regionality in flavours and styles.
Beyers Truter, Chairman of the Pinotage Association
Each year, the Absa Pinotage Top 10 Awards celebrates the very best Pinotage from South African producers, and, each year, this competition raises the bar to what can be achieved with the cultivar.
Absa has been a proud sponsor of the Pinotage Association from the beginning, supporting this passion, drive, and grit for over 25 years. Not only have they enabled the Pinotage Association to continue their work, but Absa’s own industry experts help producers across the country to reach their full potential.
As a proudly South African cultivar, Pinotage is a testament to what can be achieved when inspiration, ambition, and hard work align. And now, let’s raise a glass to the craftsmanship behind every bottle of art.
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