The world of wine loves ‘flagship’ varieties and being South Africa’s may explain Pinotage’s moderate success. Pinotage wears its parentage on its sleeve: it is a local cross of elegant, noble Pinot Noir with likewise perfumed but more rustic Hermitage (a South Africa synonym for Cinsault). And it drinks exactly so, with Pinot’s aromatic cherry/spice somehow weighted-down by earthier fruit and slightly denser tannins. Modern winemaking now allays the awkward banana/burnt-rubber tendencies of Pinotage, with very old vines and proud expertise producing clean, chocolatey-rich, age-worthy examples in South Africa - but hardly elsewhere, New Zealand’s few North Island plantings being one of the grape’s biggest global uptakes.
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