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A Closer Look at the Absa Top 10 Pinotage winners
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A record number of 148 wines were entered for the 2007 Absa Top 10 Pinotage Competition and comments made by the panel created great expectations. One of the judges was Julian Brind, a British Master of Wine. He identified Pinotage as one of the world's top class red wines.

"I think the rest of the world must discover these wines. The balance of fruit, elegance and good integration of tannins is an indication of the talent of South Africa's viticulturists and winemakers. They made it very difficult for us to select only the top ten," he said.

Let's have a closer look at the Top 10 Pinotage wines that were selected after all the hard work.

Bon Courage Pinotage 2006
Producer's description
A single vineyard wine from vines growing in stony calcareous Karoo soil. Grapes harvested at 27 degrees Balling, 9 tons/ha, de-stemmed but not crushed, cold-fermented until dry after 4-5 days. Racked twice and pumped into first and second fill French oak barrels. Aged for fourteen months.

A judge's comments
Opaque, blue/black, ripe plum nose with vanilla and spice. Rich, succulent mouth with layers of berry flavour. Supple tannins. Big and powerful. Lots of potential.

Alcohol: 14,49%
Total acidity: 5,1 g/l
Residual sugar: 3,6 g/l
pH: 3,68

Fantail Pinotage 2006 (Morgenhof Estate)
Producer's description
The grapes were produced from dry land bush-vines at 8 tons/ha. Grapes were cold macerated for five days. Extraction was done through regular punch down. Malolactic fermentation took place in oak barrels and the wine was aged for ten months in French oak.

A judge's comment
Warm spices, hints of mint. Firm yet fine grained tannins with lots of potential.

Alcohol: 13,58%
Total acidity: 5,6 g/l
Residual sugar: 2,7 g/l
pH: 3,75

Fleur du Cap Pinotage 2005
Producer's description
Grapes were sourced from dry-land vineyards between 5 and 15 years old. Hand-picked at 25 degrees Balling, yielded approximately 8 tons/ha. Fermented on the skins at 28 degrees Celsius with regular pump-overs. The wine was made in a contemporary style with minimal interference, and was matured for fifteen months in second-fill French oak barrels.

A judge's comment
Black cherries and milk chocolate. Very structured tannins balancing acidity.

Alcohol: 13,57%
Total acidity: 5,8 g/l
Residual sugar: 2,8 g/l
pH: 3,41

Four Paws Pinotage 2006
Producer's description
Grapes were sourced from bush-vines on high lying dry land. Night harvested at 26 degrees Balling. Hand-sorted, crushed and cultivated yeast added. Fermented on skins for five days. After pressing, fermented dry in stainless steel tanks for ten days. Malolactic fermentation in 55% French, 30% American, 15% Bulgarian oak barrels, of which 15% was new wood. Matured for twelfe months.

A judge's comment
Brambles with a hint of grapefruit. Fresh acidity, lively expression on palate, firm tannins and essence of fennel on finish.

Alcohol: 15,75%
Total acidity: 5,9 g/l
Residual sugar: 2,6 g/l
pH: 3,34

Marianne Pinotage 2004
Producer's description
Originates from 100% bush-vines on a westerly slope planted seven years ago in deep Tukulu soil. Harvested at full phenolic maturity, stored in a cold room for 24 hours and then destalked and hand-sorted before fermentation in closed stainless steel fermenters. Aged in 225 litre French oak for eighteen months. No fining was required.

A judge's comment
Deep core, wide, bright purple edge. Ripe plum, chocolate, mint and cherry on the nose with a hint of vanilla. Sweet fruited mouth with supple tannins.

Alcohol: 15,82%
Total acidity: 5,1 g/l
Residual sugar: 3,6 g/l
pH:4,15

Môreson Pinotage 2006
Producer's description
Grapes were hand-picked at 25,5 degrees Balling and were hand-sorted before crushing, then cold soaked for two days. Fermented in open fermenters with regular punch downs. Pressing at 0 degrees Balling. Malolactic fermentation was in tank, after which wine was matured for sixteen months in 100% French oak barrels.

A judge's comment
Aromas leap from the glass. Rich, full fruit with chocolate and cherry. Supple tannins. Lots of potential.

Alcohol: 14,49%
Total acidity: 5,1 g/l
Residual sugar: 3,6 g/l
pH: 3,68

Pulpit Rock Pinotage 2005
Producer's description
Grapes originate from a single, eleven year old vineyard with a north west orientation. Grapes were sampled and tasted until the winemaker was satisfied that optimum ripeness was achieved. Fermented in stainless steel tanks. After fermented dry, the wine was put into small barrels, where it underwent malolactic fermentation, after which it was kept for another fifteen months in 70% French oak and 30% American oak barrels.

A judge's comment
Ripe black fruit with minty notes. Delicate yet firm tannins with balanced acidity.

Alcohol: 14,38%
Total acidity: 5,6 g/l
Residual sugar: 2,1 g/l
pH: 3,69

Simonsig Red Hill Pinotage 2005
Producer's description
Grapes originate from two adjacent sites, one nine year old bush-vines and the other seven year old trellised vines. Gently crushed and de-stemmed to open fermenters. Manual punching of the cap every three to four hours. Fermentation temperature peaked at 28 degrees Celsius. Pressed after five days on the skins, alcoholic fermentation finished in the tank. Malolactic fermentation in new barrels. Matured fifteen months in 70% French oak and 30% American oak.

A judge's comment
Ripe plum nose with cherry and vanilla. Big and full in the mouth with great oak support. Super texture, great structure, amenable tannins. Lots of potential.

Alcohol: 15,01%
Total acidity: 5,8 g/l
Residual sugar: 2,6 g/l
pH: 3,50

Stellenzicht Golden Triangle Pinotage 2006
Producer's description
Grown as bush-vines on decomposed granite, the vines used for this wine delivered 9,6 tons/ha at an average of 25,2 degrees Balling. Fermentation took place partially in 300 litre barrels and the components spent an average of fifteen months in barrel. New oak comprised 26% of the components, with use made of American oak (36%), Eastern European (13%) and French (51%) oak.

A judge's comment
Medium depth, bright blue/purple. Rich, ripe plum and full fruited, well rounded mouth with developing complexity.

Alcohol: 14,83%
Total acidity: 5,7 g/l
Residual sugar: 2,6 g/l
pH: 3,48

Windmeul Reserve Pinotage 2006
Producer's description
The grapes came from an eleven year old dry land bush-vine block growing in deep disintegrated Malmesbury shale, with the vines facing in a north-easterly direction. Grapes were cast twice to control the size of the crop. Harvested 6 ton/ha at 27 degrees Balling in open fermentors. Malolactic fermentation and maturation, for eighteen months, took place in new 225 litre French oak barrels.

A judge's comment
Deep purple rim. Rich, full ripe plum and cherry on the nose with same flavours in the mouth. Supple tannins. Lots of complexity.

Alcohol: 14,56%
Total acidity: 5,8 g/l
Residual sugar: 2,1 g/l
pH: 3,49

Top performers since 1997
L'Avenir: 7 placements (1997 - 98, 2000 - 04)
Kanonop: 6 placements (1997 - 2001, 2005 - 06)
Uiterwyk: 5 placements (1998 - 99, 2001 - 03)
Kaapzicht: 4 placements (1997 - 2000)
Stellenzicht: 4 placements (2003, 2005 - 07) 
Wamakersvallei: 4 placements (2002 - 05)
Delheim: 3 placements (1999 - 2001)
Hidden Valley: 3 placements (1998 - 2000)
Môreson: 3 placements (2001, 2004, 2007)
Neethlingshof: 3 placements (2000 - 02)
Rijk’s: 3 placements (2001, 2003 - 04)
Simonsig: 3 placements (2001, 2005, 2007)
Bellevue: 2 placements (2002 - 03)
Bellingham: 2 placements (1997 - 98)
Beyerskloof: 2 placements (1997, 2003)
Clos Malverne: 2 placements (1997, 1999)
Diemersfontein: 2 placements (2001, 2005)
Graham Beck: 2 placements (1999, 2003)
Jacobsdal: 2 placements (1997 - 98)
Laibach: 2 placements (2002, 2004)
Pulpit Rock: 2 placements (2006 - 07)
Rooiberg: 2 placements (1997, 2003)
Vlottenburg: 2 placements (1998, 2002)

Tel: +27.224612025   Fax: +27.224612028   Email: info@pulpitrock.co.za  
P.O. Box 1 De Gift, Riebeek Wes, 7306, South Africa