Infobox grape variety
name = Pinotage
color = Rouge

caption =
species = "Vitis vinifera"
also_called = Perold's Hermitage x Pinot
origin = South Africa
hazards =
regions = South Africa
notable_wines =

Pinotage (pronounced|pinɔˈtaʒəFact|date=October 2008 ) is a red wine grape that is South Africa's signature variety. It was bred there in 1925 as a cross between Pinot noir and Cinsaut. It typically produces deep red varietal wines with smoky, bramble and earthy flavors, sometimes with notes of bananas and tropical fruit, but has been criticized for sometimes smelling of acetone. Pinotage is often blended, and also made into fortified wine and even red sparkling wine. Robinson, Jancis "Vines, Grapes & Wines" Mitchell Beazley 1986 ISBN 1857329996 ] The grape is a viticultural cross, not a hybrid. In plant breeding, a cross is a cultivar which is the result of crossing two or more cultivars within the same species, while a hybrid is a cultivar bred from members of different species. Both of Pinotage's ancestors are "Vitis vinifera".


Pinotage is a grape variety that was created in South Africa in 1925 by Abraham Izak Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at Stellenbosch University. Perold was attempting to combine the best qualities of the robust Cinsault with Pinot Noir, a grape that makes great wine but can be difficult to grow. Cinsaut is known as Hermitage in South Africa, hence the portmanteau name of Pinotage. J. Robinson (ed) "The Oxford Companion to Wine" Third Edition pg 528 Oxford University Press 2006 ISBN 0198609906 ] Perold planted the four seeds from his cross in the garden of his official residence at Welgevallen Experimental Farm and then seems to have forgotten about them. In 1927 he left the university for a job with KWV co-operative and the garden became overgrown. The university sent in a team to tidy it up, just as Charlie Niehaus happened to pass by. He was a young lecturer who knew about the seedlings, and rescued them from the clean-up team.cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Pinotage History : Birth | work = | publisher = Pinotage Association| date = | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2007-04-29 ] The young plants were moved to Elsenburg Agricultural College under Perold's successor, CJ Theron. In 1935 Theron grafted them onto newly established Richter 99 and Richter 57 rootstock at Welgevallen. Meanwhile Perold continued to visit his former colleagues. Theron showed him the newly grafted vines, and the one that was doing best was selected for propagation and was christened Pinotage. The first wine was made in 1941 at Elsenburg, with the first commercial plantings at Myrtle Grove near Sir Lowry's Pass.

The first recognition came when a Bellevue wine made from Pinotage became the champion wine at the Cape Wine Show of 1959. This wine would become the first wine to mention Pinotage on its label in 1961, when Stellenbosch Farmer's Winery (SFW) marketed it under their Lanzerac brand.cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Pinotage History : Recognition | work = | publisher = Pinotage Association| date = | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2007-04-29 ] This early success, and its easy viticulture, prompted a wave of planting during the 1960s.


Despite the reputation for easy cultivation, the Pinotage grape has not existed without criticisms. A common complaint is the tendency to develop isoamyl acetate during winemaking which leads to a sweet pungency that often smells like paint. A group of British Masters of Wine visiting in 1976 were unimpressed by Pinotage, calling the nose "hot and horrible" and comparing the taste to "rusty nails". Throughout its history, the grape has seen its plantings rise and fall due to the current fashion of the South African wine industry. In the early 1990s, as Apartheid ended and the world's wine market was opening up, winemakers in South Africa ignored Pinotage in favor of more internationally recognized varieties like Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Towards the end of the 20th century, the grape's fortunes began to turn, and by 1997 it commanded higher prices than any other South African grape. Despite this, there remains a segment of South African winemakers, such as André van Rensburg of Vergelegen, who believe that Pinotage has no place in a vineyard. [cite web | last = McDonald | first = Fiona | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Fairbairn Capital Trophy Wine Show | work = | publisher = WINE Magazine, South Africa | date = | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2007-04-29 ]

Oz Clarke has suggested that part of some South African winemakers disdain for Pinotage stems from the fact that its a distinctly New World wine while the trend for South African wine is to reflect more European influences and flavors. Despite being a cross from a Burgundy and Rhône grape, Pinotage reflects none of the flavors of a French wine. Oz Clarke "Encyclopedia of Grapes" pg 186 Harcourt Books 2001 ISBN 0151007144 ] While not a criticism itself, outside of small plantings most notably in New Zealand and the United States, Pinotage has yet to develop a significant presence in any other wine region. T. Stevenson "The Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia" pg 444 Dorling Kindersley 2005 ISBN 0756613248 ] In the early 21st century, several of South Africa's top producers have turned from focusing predominately on Pinotage to using it more as a blending component, or have stopped using it at all. [ J. Molesworth " [,1197,1723,00.html Leaving Pinotage Behind] " Wine Spectator May 28, 2003 ]

Wine regions

In addition to South Africa, Pinotage is also grown in Brazil, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, United States and Zimbabwe. In New Zealand, there are 94 acres of Pinotage. In the US, there are plantings in California and Virginia. German winemakers have recently begun experimenting with the grape.

outh Africa

The majority of the world's plantings of Pinotage is found in South Africa, where it makes up just 6.7% of the vineyard area but is considered a symbol of the country's distinctive winemaking traditions. It is a required component (30-70%) in "Cape blends". Here it is made into the full range of styles, from easy-drinking quaffing wine and rosé to barrel-aged wine intended for cellaring. It is also made into a fortified 'port' style, and even a red sparkling wine. The grape is very dependent on the skill and style of winemaking, with well made examples having the potential to produce deep colored, fruity wines that can be accessible early as well as age.

Viticulture and winemaking

The vines are vigorous like their parent Cinsaut and easy to grow, ripening early with high sugar levels. It has the potential to produce yields of 120 hl/ha (6.8 tons/acre) but older vines tend lower their yields to as low as 50 hl/ha. In winemaking, controlling the coarseness of the grape and the isoamyl acetate character are two important considerations. Volatile acidity is another potential wine fault that can cause Pinotage to taste like raspberry vinegar. Since the 1990s, more winemakers have used long and cool fermentation periods to minimize the volatile esters as well as exposure to French and American oak.

The grape is naturally high tannins which can be tamed with limited maceration time but reducing the skin contact can also reduce some of the mulberry, blackberry and damson fruit character that Pinotage can produce. Some winemakers have experimented with letting the grapes get very ripe, prior to harvest followed by limited oak exposures as another means of taming the more negative characteristics of the grape while maintaining its fruitiness. Newer clones have shown some potential as well.


Perold's Hermitage x Pinot. The alternative name 'Herminoir' was considered.

External links

* [] The Pinotage Club
* [] The Pinotage Association
* [ Pinotage Aroma Wheel]


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