Part of the beauty of this series, for me, anyway, is that I am able to be motivated to really reach out and be exposed to such a great collective of worldly wines and learn a great deal about varietals whose existence I was not previously aware. In this case, we travel to South Africa and a varietal of Pinot Noir, which you no doubt guessed already and a grape called Cinsaut, which had another name in the region, Hermitage, hence the new name for the new cross-bred varietal.
Pinotage, however, is a very volatile grape and it is one that takes a great deal of care and tweaking to make palatable, sort of like the exquisite massaging one would need to do to juggle liquid nitroglycerine, for example. I may be overstating it, but historical records have not been kind to some of the end result. In this case, though, we have a nice and smoky flavor, along with a touch of both astringency and effervescence, which I found endlessly delightful. The flavor seems modest but allow it to linger and you find a deep well of power hidden beneath the surface. This is a very complex wine and expect some of the darker berry fruits, perhaps with a dash of plum and very slight cherry for flavoring notes, along with that smoke and a bit of leather as well.
Mouth feel is where things really get intriguing, both with the slight carbonated aspect (it is not, however, an actual carbonated wine, such as a real sparkling white or champagne. By no means should that be read into this, it is very slight and utterly pleasant, a brilliant and refreshing change of pace) as well as the wine skirting the edge between being light and have some solid mouth feel. Tannins are definitely present, but quite far from assertive. Altogether, this is one of the more pleasant wines I’ve experience and puts South Africa back on the radar for me, having been off of it for quite some time after several wines from that regions striking me as misfires.
At the price point, this is a great bargain. I don’t anticipate you would keep all the wonderful characteristics cellaring it (and I can’t imagine what hoops that would require one to jump through) and I don’t do any of that, in any case, so this is much more immediate. I have not seen this on SPA, but again, I don’t usually wander into this region in the store, so it may be and I’ve just not noticed. It is one of my new favorites, though, so it is beyond a Mixed…therefore South Africa puts itself on the HSC list with a bang…coming in as a Standard.