Fleur du Cap Pinotage 2013

Fleur du Cap Pinotage 2013: Dark red, almost black color; brambles, plum, cherry nose;

black and red cherry, plum, red and black currant tang, nice spice, cedar chip on the palate; medium weight with good balance, acidity, fine tannins, dry; clean, no great subtleties—but very nice-for-price elements throughout. Robust red pour that many people will never have tasted—or even heard of. Pinotage is South Africa’s national grape; it is cross between pinot noir and cinsault created in the 1920s at the University of Stellenbosch (this wine comes from Stellenbosch, a region in the Western Cape of South Africa, east of Cape Town). Pinotage retains pinot noir’s penchant to be petulant, so it easily can get out of hand; it is the little girl with the curl—when it is good, it can be very good indeed, but when it is bad, it is horrid. Most very good pinotage gets consumed in South Africa and never makes it to U.S. shore stores. This effort does not reach heights of pinotage of legend (I have never tasted such, although hope springs eternal), but it is an excellent value. For what it is, this is tasty and well made by the Distell Group, a dominant player in South African wines. As with so many reds, especially robust and assertive ones, Fleur de Cap Pinotage benefits greatly from air. Do not pop-and-pour to experience it at its best. Sipped correctly, you will find something that is more muscular and assertive than pinot noir, but you can still sense the pinot parentage; cinsault typically is blender to add softness and bouquet, but softness does not come across here. This is more like a body builder or a wrestler dressed in a tuxedo; svelte it is not. There are many reasons to try a pinotage: because it is not something you come across every day, so why not expand your wine world; because it is—like many South African wines—a great value-for-price play; because it is fascinating to see how a clone of two etherial grapes turned out to be something more like cabernet sauvignon (who knew?). This is a rare and tasty treat; at this price, well worth a gamble and a gambol. $13Fleur du Cap Pinotage