It’s Pinotage Day, wine lovers! If you forgot to send a card, we totally understand. But, we hope you will join us in celebrating this great grape with some Pinotage wine wisdom. After all, Pinotage is South Africa’s signature red—and if you don’t know it, you should!

Photo Credit: Denee Hough.

Pinotage is a cross between two grape varieties—Pinot Noir and Cinsault, which was once known as Hermitage, hence the clever name mashup. It was created by Abraham Izak Perold in 1925 at Stellenbosch University. Grape Abe’s (Perold’s) initial motivation was to develop a wine that had Pinot Noir’s delicate sensibilities (because the varietal was having a hard time in South Africa’s climate), but one that also featured Cinsault’s hardiness. The net result was a viticultural cross (think grape science) that produced inky, bold-flavored wines with plum, blackberry, bacon and smoke flavors.

The first commercial plantings began in 1941, and Pinotage went on to gain wide attention after its first wine recognition in 1959 as Bellevue Wine Estate Pinotage Champion at the Cape Wine Show .

“Pinotage is actually a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, but the flavor is really nothing like either individual grape on its own. It has a lovely smoky, earthy, bramble quality to it.”

Missa Capozzo

Grape Abe was obvi a genius because the Pinotage varietal is flourishing today and has become known as South Africa’s finest red. Our Wine Director, Francis Sanders, says our current vintage, 2015 Marula Pinotage, Western Cape, South Africa, improves on our past vintages, which is saying a lot because Pinotage has been a choice wine for our customers since we first introduced it at Traveling Vineyard.

In general, Pinotage produces deep red, smoky, briary, earthy flavors with occasional notes of bananas and tropical fruits. When made with attention to quality, Pinotage can be a casual sipper or an intense, rich wine that can age for a few years.

Photo Credit: Kisha Dlugos.

Our 2015 Marula Pinotage is barely translucent, approaching inky garnet hues in the glass and features ripe fruit over smoke on the nose, complemented by rich plum and blackberry on the palate. The palate also shows a whiff of orange peel and coffee. This Marula is rustic, with Pinot Noir-like heft, a supple mouthfeel, lip-smacking fruit and a lingering finish.

Missa Capozzo, our Director of Sommology, is a big fan of Pinotage, and particularly our new vintage of Marula Pinotage.

“I love Marula because I find it to be a wonderful opportunity to try something different than the standard Noble grapes and from an area of the world, in this case South Africa, that some wine enthusiasts might not have experienced before,” Missa says.

Her first experience with Pinotage was during one of her wine certification trainings shortly after Traveling Vineyard debuted Marula, and she “truly fell in love with the grape.”

Missa’s top three food pairings for Pinotage? Chocolate covered bacon, pulled pork and tiramisu. Our Marula also pairs well with barbecued pulled pork, smoked gouda, lasagna, kielbasa and blackened fish. Find more Marula pairings here.

So, are you sold on Grape Abe’s magical grape? We were. That’s why we created Marula for you and we hope it finds its way to your table and into your heart, as it did ours.

Happy Pinotage Day!

Featured Image by Mel Eitel.


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