Paula’s Wines of the Week – 16th November 2020

Paula’s Wines of the Week – 16th November 2020

Wine Q&A: Is Pinotage the same as Pinot Noir?

No not quite. Known as the signature grape of South Africa, Pinotage may have started life as the Pinot Noir grape but it got crossed with another classic French grape variety called Cinsault to enable it to better survive the hot South African sun. The resulting grape had a hard life being accepted from its 1920s origins at the Stellenbosch University – mainly because the wines had a tendency to smell like a bicycle tyre or sometimes paint.

Research suggests that these “off” aromas are the result of fermenting the Pinotage grape juice at too low a temperature, causing an excess of the chemical isoamyl acetate. Reducing the time the pressed grape skins are in contact with the fermenting grape juice also reduces the concentration of this Pinotage aroma as well as careful selection of the yeast strain used.

Pinotage wines have seen a revival of interest in the last ten years having developed their own styles and flavours away from the probable original 1920s intention of creating a Rhone-type French wine which would copy the style of Hermitage.

Although the French region of Hermitage uses predominately Syrah grapes to make its wines, the name was associated with the Cinsault grape in South Africa. Why this confusion occurred is not clear but the South African grape term Hermitage, combined with Pinot Noir, gave rise to the naming of Pinotage.

Paula’s Wine Reviews from

M&S Classics No.16 South African Pinotage 2020
£8 M&S
4 star rating
Pinotage wines have a tendency to smell like a bicycle tyre. That rubbery smell is evident here, but only very lightly. The style seems quite homebrew to start with but it opens out quite deliciously into flavours of fresh cherries and violets with the softness of milk chocolate. Worth a try.

Lidl Barossa Valley Shiraz 2017
£5.79 Lidl
4 star rating
A complex Shiraz with aromas of brown bread, spicy chocolate cake and blackcurrant. The taste is somewhat sharper with the freshness of the blackcurrant waking things up a bit. There’s a creamy finish with a grind of black pepper that makes this an enjoyable wine.

Tesco Finest Signargues Cotes du Rhone Villages 2019
£8 Tesco
3 star rating
Cherry dominates the flavour followed by blackcurrant leaves and earthy cocoa. Crisp apple acidity rounds it off. Okay but there are better Cotes du Rhone out there for the price.

The wine rating system uses a maximum of 5 stars:

5 star rating (outstanding – the top rating given by
4 star rating (very good wine)
3 star rating (good wine but over priced)
2 star rating (a disappointing wine)
1 star rating (little to offer)

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© Paula Goddard 2020