It’s Beyers Truter’s can-do attitude (and Pinotage) that gives brand Beyerskloof its charm.

“If you like Pinotage you probably also like chicory and Brussel sprouts,” a wine expert once told me condescendingly. It’s not only the bitter undertones in Pinotage that had Wine Masters crinkling their noses. The taste of Pinotage has also been likened to ‘rusty nails’ and the aroma to ‘acetone’.

One man took on the challenge to try and bring the best out of this truly South African cultivar, a cross between Pinot Noir and Hermitage (also known as Cinsaut) developed by Professor Abraham Izak Perold at Stellenbosch University in 1925.

“In the early days no one else followed up but I experimented,” said Beyers Truter when we meet him in his office at Beyerskloof wine farm, on the Koelenhof Road close to Stellenbosch. He offers to make us coffee and apologizes politely when his dog Milo jumps on my colleague’s lap. Besides being known as the Pinotage King, there’s no airs and graces about Beyers Truter.

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