Pinotage is a red wine variety which was bred in the 1920s in South Africa from a cross between the red wine varieties Pinot Noir and Cinsaut.
This variety is a major contributor to the South Africa wine industry. Lesser areas are grown in California and New Zealand and it plays a cameo role a few other countries.
The truth is that the Pinotage variety can be used to make truly unpleasant wines, or some very good wines, or in fact plenty of ordinary stuff in between.
The cross was made to try to combine the wine quality of Pinot Noir with the high yielding ability of Cinsaut.
Good Pinotage wines are very good. They retain, or maybe constrain, the wild, rich flavours to make lighter red styles or sometimes deep rich reds.
Two problems which detract from quality of some wines made from this variety are over-aggressive tannins and volatile acidity.
Pinotage is also used to make Port style wines, sparkling wines, roses and sometimes as a component of blended white wines.
Just a few Australian wineries have shown any interest in the variety. The field for new varieties is crowded and it seems others have more viticultural and marketing potential.
As a rare variety Pinotage is included in the Rare Ozzies book. It includes comments by winemaker Phil Barrecas about his winery's experience with Pinotage.
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