Does Nederburg hate Pinotage?


One of the biggest changes at this year’s Nederburg Auction is to the selection process with a couple of Masters of Wine and foreign palates (below, who dominate Auction video coverage in spite of having faces better suited to radio) added to form a “new look” old look all-white tasting panel of 10 (7 boys, 3 girls). The results will not impress cultural workers, feminists or Pinotage producers with Shiraz outnumbering Pinotage by 2 to 1 if you ignore historical lots from Oude Libertas and the brave ABSA Top Ten Pinotage selection. Which comes as no surprise, given the prejudice shown to the SA USP red cultivar by selectors like Brit “Dr.” Jamie Goode who infamously noted “Pinotage is vile” before going on to say some nasty things about the cultivar. Quite why such bigoted palates are still taken seriously is a mystery. If indeed they are.

Starsky Hutch 300x208 Does Nederburg hate Pinotage?

While the line-up of Shirazes is impressive: Aaldering, Alto, Delheim, Haskell, Hartenberg, Heron Ridge, Kleine Zalze, La Motte, Meerdendal, Mullineux, Rijks and Scali, have the tasters actually sabotaged the Auction? For as Alastair Bland noted in December “What’s the difference between a case of syrah and a case of pneumonia? You can get rid of the pneumonia.” A situation confirmed by local retailers, with Pinotage sales booming while Shiraz languishes.

Chenin Blanc, also once unloved and terminally out of fashion, was singled out by several tasters for praise, with offerings from Beaumont, Bosman, De Morgenzon, Raats, Remhoogte, Rijk Tulbagh, Rudera, Stellenrust and Welbedacht. What a pity Pinotage does not also get a place in the sun for if it cannot sparkle in Paarl, where can it shine?

Declaration: the author makes Pinotage and judges for the ABSA Top Ten Pinotage Competition.