ABSA Top Ten Pinotages

7am BA flight down to Cape Town on a Pinotage pilgrimage, seated behind the dapper new publisher of WINE magazine, Heino Gehle. Once again synchronicity raises its curious head – of all the people to sit behind on a chock-a-block flight (my original 7:15 Kulula had been cancelled) with random seat allocation, synchronicity chooses your boss. The Pinot Phile blog offers a provocative perspective on new look WINE.

p2 ABSA Top Ten Pinotages

I’m a great believer in statistics, which were again confirmed today. Festivities started with a blind tasting of ABSA’s Top Twenty Pinotages. My Top Ten included five that matched the judges’ Top Ten (although two of my twenty were faulty bottles). Not as good a performance as WINE editor Christian Eedes though, who had seven coincidences. In fact, it was a good day for the Third Estate as Mercury wine writer Nicola Jenvey also scored a magnificent seven, although it’s not clear if she also won a prize.

The wines themselves were great with my top trio consisting of Beyers Truter’s Diesel Pinotage 2006 (named after his dearly departed dog, Diesel and not a flavour descriptor), the De Waal Top of the Hill 2006 and my favourite, Boela Gerber’s Groot Constantia 2006 that Sue van Wyk CWM visiting from Australia called “dreadful.” Maybe Sue has a point, as it didn’t make the Top Ten while my other two faves, did. But then the judges seemed to like it too, as their comment read “a perfect wine in every way” although perfection was not enough to ensure a berth in the Top Ten in this case.

The judges’ comments on Diesel are also classic: “elgant (sic), balanced a gentleman’s wine.” Well authorities do insist that a man’s best friend is his dog… Another innovation was the broad spread of vintages represented, due to a rule change that allows any vintage to be submitted whereas previously only latest releases were permitted. Dating the Top Twenty thus gives a rough guide to vintage quality: 2004 – 1 wine, 2005 – 3 wines, 2006 – 9 wines and 2007 – 7 wines.

The only off-note emerged at lunch in a sub-arctic Neethlingshof cellar, when MC Solly Philander, a TV personality Smarter than a 5th Grader, asked if everyone could understand Afrikaans. One well know identity affirmed and left shortly afterwards when commentary resumed in Afrikaans. Which was a shame, as the speeches were mostly in English and when it came to sing “happy birthday” to Kobus Deetlefs in English after a spirited Afrikaans rendition, the monolingual had already departed. Just as well as Kobus is a famous boycotter of the leading English language wine guide of which the monolinguist is a leading taste bud.