Exploring South Africa

Geoff Kruth interviews Jim Clarke on the wines of South Africa.

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  • On Pinotage from a few questions asked of Sebastian Beaumont ~ 

    1. In your opinion why are there so many misconceptions about Pinotage? This was all triggered by the new wave of SA wines to escape the country in that desperate attempt to sell our wines to the world in the early 90’s. This resulted in producers putting anything into the bottle regardless of the quality and calling it Pinotage ( SA’s great red grape). At that stage wine making and viticulture techniques weren’t very up to date with what the world wanted. Over cropping in the vineyards over working in the cellar and having to release the wines quite young weren’t good for Pinotage. It took us a while to figure out that the market didn’t really enjoy the wines and that we needed to tweak the style. So were they misconceptions or were they just bad experiences that drive a preconception. If you don’t like mushrooms then offering you ceps isn’t going to help. California Chard has the same misconception in many ways for those outside of the US. Heavy over oaked yellow chard. I think the modern wave of top end Pinotage is way better than it was 10 yrs ago. Never forget that half its parentage comes from Pinot Noir – a notoriously tough grape with a very temperamental and sensitive nature. Pinotage has this too and so you have to find the producer who makes a style that you enjoy.

    2. How does Beaumont Pinotage differ from others in the market? I think it is through time and experience of the last 20 yrs that we have discovered the style that we enjoy drinking and so producing. We have old vines 40 and 20 yrs and they cannot be forced to produce a thick heavy style of Pinotage. We like classic wines and have always aspired to making wines that express their character in the purest of ways. We enjoy the more Pinot like characters that our Pinotage brings out, it is medium bodied and 13.5% alc and this produces a style that has its own identity. I love it and so am very proud to show it to the world. We just racked the 2014 out of barrel and it looks great as a follow up vintage.

    3. What is your favorite Pinotage food pairing and why? Venison(normally Springbok) with a plum sauce (esp with some cinnamon) The leanness of the venison matches that dry tannin on the Pinotage and the plum fruit sauce pairs beautifully with the fruit aromatics and flavours of the wine.

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