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Pinotage is typically spicy but can range from light and fresh, to the fuller-bodied, satisfying and rich style that Kanonkop makes for us, lush fruit forward in 2018. Created in 1925 as a cross of pinot noir and cinsault, pinotage is South Africa's very own grape, planted hardly anywhere else around the world.
Product Code: SA16281
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Kanonkop, in Stellenbosch, is a leading South African estate with a whole raft of awards to its name. Kanonkop means ‘Cannon Hill’ and originates from the days when cannons were fired to signal the arrival of Dutch trade ships into Cape Town harbour. This estate is probably the most famous producer of pinotage internationally and was one of the first ever estates to even grow the grape. Incumbent winemaker, Abrie Beeslaar won the esteemed title of IWSC International Winemaker of the Year award in 2008, having taken over from legendary predecessor and so-called ‘king of pinotage’, Beyers Truter. Kanonkop is renowned for its red varietals, and chooses to specialise in only a few wines. Apart from its famous pinotage, the other grapes grown here are cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc which go into its very approachable Cape Blend, and the best into its iconic cabernets and Paul Sauer bottlings. These tend to be big, robust wines which go superbly well with red meat and spicy dishes.
South Africa is undoubtedly one of the world's most dynamic wine producers. Established winemakers re-emerged onto the international scene in the early 1990s, following the demise of the apartheid era, and new wines, wineries, highly qualified winemakers, and even new regions have appeared steadily ever since. This makes South Africa more exciting than ever, but more complicated, too. Most South African wines are varietally labelled - a key factor in any buying decision. Styles vary of course, and our notes aim to clarify this, but you will probably already know whether you like sauvignon blanc (now among the world's best), chardonnay, riesling, syrah, pinot noir, or cabernet.South Africa's most famous grapes - white chenin blanc and red pinotage - will be less familiar unless you are already a convert. South African chenins are quite different from those in the Loire - almost always dry, but ripe and full of flavour (often with the complexity that comes from the increasingly sought-after old-vine fruit and the use of oak). Pinotage, a South African creation, is for many a love-it-or-hate-it grape. Pinotage's 'parents' are pinot noir, which imparts its strawberry aromas and lovely texture in young wines, and more complex, farmyard characteristics in more mature examples, and cinsault, the southern French grape, which adds spice and body. It was developed in South Africa in 1926. Shiraz is now making a name for itself in South Africa with some superb examples bottled varietally and showing characteristics that often places it between the plush New World style pioneered by Australia and classic Rhône balance and elegance.More significant in South Africa than much of the New World (notably New Zealand and Chile) are blends, which make selection more complicated, as the style of the wine is less easy to anticipate. As in Australia and California, however, many of the best wines here are blends - a sign of maturity in the industry. Bordeaux blends were favoured initially but there are increasing numbers of Rhône and southern French influenced blends, including some eclectic mixes, many of which are among South Africa’s best wines.The RegionsThe vineyards of South Africa are at a latitude of about 35o south, with hot, dry Mediterranean-type summers tempered by oceanic influences in the south, particularly the very cold Benguela Current. Much of the country is mountainous or hilly with a multitude of terroirs for winemakers to play with. Soils are ancient and complex, and many and varied from region to region, and even vineyard to vineyard. Rainfall is very varied from one area to another, largely depending which side of a mountain or range a vineyard lies on, and in some parts irrigation is essential. South Africa’s rigorous Wine Of Origin scheme demarcates vineyard areas, including some single vineyards, and guarantees the geographical source of the wine much like the old French appellation contrôllée system recently renamed AOP, though there are no controls on yields and grape varieties as there are in France..Bordeaux-style blends are one of the Stellenbosch region's great strengths. Wines such as Kanonkop's Paul Sauer, Meerlust's Rubicon and Warwick's Trilogy are South African icons, produced over many years, and with proven ageing capacity. The striking Simonsberg mountain names the ward (or area) most highly sought after for these reds, but Stellenbosch produces a wide range of wine styles, from excellent chenin blancs and sauvignons to robust pinotage and Cape Blends.Paarl is its less-well-known neighbour, also warm, and best known for its robust but smooth reds. Franschhoek is understandably one of the most-visited towns in the Cape (with lots of French Huguenot history and some of the best restaurants in the region). It has a number of famous producers, most notably Boekenhoutskloof, but most do not produce exclusively from Franschhoek fruit. Cape Chamonix is an exception we rate highly, producing a wide range of wine styles from bubbly to cabernet franc led red blend Troika.The generally warmer Swartland region has been at the forefront of the development of Rhône varietals in South Africa, led by stars such as Eben Sadie, as well as home to some of the best old chenin blanc vines. Further north, and much cooler is Citrusdal, where fresher styles are produced and chenin blanc can achieve real finesse.The Cape peninsula, to the south of Cape Town itself, is home to Constantia, known for its cooler climate thanks to the influence of the two oceans that almost circle it. Here, sauvignon blanc and the Bordeaux grapes predominate, but there are lovely examples of aromatic varieties too, notably Klein Constantia's elegant riesling and its wonderful sweet muscat Vin de Constance, and the vibrant sauvignon blancs from Cape Point vineyards to the south. Rhône varietals are successful new additions.Elgin, en route to Hermanus, is another very cool region, very much up-and-coming for sauvignon blanc, as is Elim, which is even further south and the source of our former Exhibition Sauvignon. Robertson is almost due north of Elim, but way inland and far hotter. A small number of family producers manage to make excellent sauvignon here, too, but it is also a good source of chardonnay, increasingly pinot noir, and elegantly styled pinotage and Rhône varietals, not forgetting the excellent fortified muskadels which are unique to the Cape.The most important factor in deciding whether or not to buy is often the producer's name. This is easily achieved when some of the grandest 'old' names, such as Meerlust, Hamilton Russell, Kanonkop, and Klein Constantia, still rank among the country's best producers. Where it gets trickier is when the winery is new, has no track record, or the winemaker is not a household name.
"Crikey - drinking this wine was a Jekyll & Hyde experience, but in a good way! First day really full bodied with brambly fruit to the fore, almost overpowering. Next day it had changed dramatically to a subtle, velvety smooth wine with a light gamey after taste. All bodes well to excellent aging potential - if you have the patience.
I would recommend this wine
There are no press reviews for this product.
"Decantend for an hour, and it's got strong flavours of oak, smoke, and seaweed. Perhps a little too smoky for my taste."
Mr Piers Beckley (14-Oct-2020)
"This is a super quality/value pinotage. We have had this a ‘stock’ wine at home for the last couple of years and this 2017 is a lovely full bodied wine to accompany roasts and steaks. Plenty of plum, blackberry with a bit of oak. I figure yet another order warrants this review. Enjoy"
Mr Andrew Newsham (30-Aug-2020)
"It seems to me all the reviews here are correct. I recently decided to try the Exhibition Pinotage and when I opened it had a glass which I pronounced rough, coarse and rebarbative. I reclosed the bottle and left it for four days. My second glass was magical and deeply impressive. Powerful in the way only Pinotage can manage, it had become a very good wine. Pinotage will never in my opinion achieve the subtleties of which claret or Burgundy is capable, but when a red wine of strong character is wanted it is almost unbeatable, and this is an excellent example of the genre.
I would defy anyone who claimed that my judgement was in any due to the fact that the glass I have just put away is 14 degrees...."
Mr Mark O'Sullivan (02-Aug-2020)
"Worth the asking price. We tend to prefer the more robust reds. Currently drinking it whilst eating a very authentic boerie bought from the local South African shop, excellent stuff. Definitely fruity and spicy as described but also smoother than some Pinotage I've tried. We both think it's best with food, meaty and robust South African food preferably. One to add to the "will buy again" list, recommended."
Timothy D G Wood Esq (25-Jul-2020)
"We first came across Pinotage at the justifiably famous Champanys in Linlithgow- not to be confused with others of a similar name- ( South African owner)and the sommelier told us that it was a challenging grape not to everyone’s taste but “ in the right hands” it is the perfect accompaniment to steak . The right hands he said were those at Kanonkop. Well it did not disappoint and never has - including this example.That we can get it at this price is testament to the bargaining skills of TWS. I would end by saying it is more versatile than just for steak- try with the cheeseboard, charcuterie or on its own ."
Mr Keith G Napier (16-Jul-2020)
"Tried this vintage again after six months and was reassured that its a long lasting, sipping wine of considerable depths and character. How can two bottles from the same vintage be so different? Both decanted for about four hours before drinking."
Mr Paul N E Berry (20-Jun-2020)
"This review is of 2016 vintage.
I am not a fan of Pinotage, but a friend persuaded me to try this one. Absolutely superb. Full bodied, smooth and full of flavour. One of the nicest wines I have tasted. Was about to order more, but the 2017 doesn’t appear to be getting such good reviews."
Mr James Bellany (26-Apr-2020)
"Having bought and enjoyed the earlier vintages I looked forward to this latest (2017) vintage. I find the wine benefits from many hours of air time to really open out - even up to 24hours. This last vintage was a real disappointment lacking the almost chewy intensity of the previous years. The wine does not 'evolve' in the glass, lacks complexity, is not what I was expecting and hoped for. I trust the next vintage returns to the quality of previous years. "
Mr Paul N E Berry (20-Mar-2020)
"A good wine, and for us was exactly as described. As with most it became more rounded the longer it breathed. We are fans of heavier reds such as Zinfandel/Primitivo and Rioja, and this was a good find in this bracket. Great with the traditional food pairings and with more than enough flavour to be drunk independently (as I am now)."
Captain Hugo Cartwright (12-Mar-2020)
"We have just drunk a bottle of Exhibition Pinotage 2016 and it was excellent - good nose and length, as a mellow Pinotage should be. Pinotage is not to everybody's taste but if you are a Pinotage lover, this is a good example. We hope the 2017 is as good."
Mrs I Anne S Randle (12-Dec-2019)
Well, I see that I'm on my own here. My bottle of Exhibition Pinotage 2017 tasted to me like the result of leaving an old pair of sweaty shoes in dirty water for a month or two. I am not generally a fussy wine drinker but this was undrinkable. Most was thrown down the sink. Sorry, but no."
Dr Richard Fox (03-Oct-2019)
"Completed my conversion to pinotage having declared I hated it for the last decade or so! This is a beautifully balanced wine - please get it back in stock soon!"
Dr P A Flecknell (11-Aug-2019)
"Never fails to deliver on flavour. Leggy but not overpowering. "
Dr Scott Fegan (25-Jul-2019)
"A knockout Kanonkop for £11.50. Buy! "
Mr Andrew James Cruickshank (10-Jul-2019)
"I really enjoyed this and I shall be buying more."
Mr Michael Beetham (02-Jul-2019)
" Very nice Pinotage which I will certainly buy again! Brings back memories to our holiday in SA."
Mr Paul Verhaak (07-Jun-2019)
"I have bought several bottles of this vintage, and I would most certainly buy it again. 5 star"
Derrick J Franks Esq (17-Apr-2019)
The Sunday Times (11th Aug 2019)
"The pinotage grape
was developed at Stellenbosch University during the 1920s. A cross between
cinsault and pinot noir, it exudes fig and plum, with a slight gamey note. This
is perfect with sizzling meat from the barbecue. - Will Lyons"
midweekwines.co.uk (13th Mar 2019)
assessments of pinotage are not hard to find but, when done as well as it is
here, the real glory that the variety can reach comes shining through.
Consider how [this] combines soft cherry and plum fruit with sharp acidity,
hints of cocoa, mint and sweetness, a firm (yet proportionate) grip of tannin
and, finally, evolving savoury depth. - Brian Elliott"
independent.co.uk (23rd Feb 2019)
"…sourced from the
Kanonkop estate in Stellenbosch, one of the pioneering producers of the grape
and discover its distinctive, smoky, earthy, spicy red fruit flavours. - Terry Kirby"
"Probably 4.5 points at this price. VG vfm and a very well balanced Pinotage, just right for my taste in the sweet spot between fruit and tanin."
Mr Johnny Holmes (15-May-2019)
"Colour: Deep dark purple fading to a red rim.
Aroma: Profound and rich, blackcurrant, cherry, menthol, an earthiness, mushroom, undergrowth, sweet and sour sauce, tar, smoke, sweet tobacco and lots of spice.
Taste: Dry, med+ body, moderate firm slightly drying tannin, abundant acidity, balanced. Curious mid-palate of raspberry and smoked cured meat ending with a good hot spicy finish.
Overall: So enjoyable, great example of the 'love it' or 'hate it' Pinotage. Good nose, good length, all in all a well-rounded wine. Very good value, highly recommend."
Mr Gabriel Higgins (07-Apr-2019)
"Rustic, not enjoyable."
Mr Gawain Young (05-Jan-2019)
"Ordered six bottles for a dinner party and was very well received. Has a depth of flavour beyond that expected from its price. Great value."
Dr Scott Fegan (09-Dec-2018)
"Disappointed with this wine. Extremely peppery; an assault to the palate. Very dry & tannic. Complex, enjoyable after taste but swamped by dryness and tannins. Overall a tough wine to drink. "
Mr Paul R Thomas (19-Nov-2018)
"I ordered this wine on the strength of the reviews. I have to say I was a little disappointed and not to my taste. It definitely needs decanting and there was a large amount of sediment in the bottle. "
Mr David Adkin (17-Nov-2018)
Mr Robert Hudson (15-Oct-2018)
"I agree with Mr Peter May, excellent and for the price fantastic, decanting is a must."
Mr David Weare (10-Sep-2018)
"The neck-band of the capsule on the current capsule discloses that this is the Kadette bottling, so all the detailed facts of this wine can be seen on Kanonkops website.
Made by Abrie Beeslaar sourced from grapes grown in a vineyard outside the estate and aged in older barrels than the Estate bottling gives us the same quality at half the price, albeit with maybe less aging capability but easier to drink young.
And its lovely stuff to drink. Deep and rich, perfectly dry though with natural Pinotage sweetness, so it makes a good match with spicy dishes as well as meats. The South Africans drink it with steaks cooked over an open wood fire and at Kanonkop also with that South African bony fish 'Snoek' grilled over charcoal.
Six stars from me."
Mr Peter May (30-Jun-2018)
"From the producers of Kanonkop. This is an example of pure meaty fleshy sunsoaked African terroir. Juicy refined plums brighten up your palate while delicately tickling your senses with its soft tannins and deep flavour passing over your tongue like crimson molten. This is good value at £10.50, needs to sit in a decanter while reading Born Free."
Ms Leah Newman (01-May-2018)
Mr Dominic Murphy (10-Apr-2018)
"I really enjoyed this wine, on opening, the next day, room temperature as well as chilled. Although I am a regular visitor to Burgundy I am constantly seeking wines from around the world which approximate to a Burgundy. Stupid really as someone of my age should know. This is a delightful wine, deeper in colour than any Burgundy, a hint of Pinot Noir on the nose, but there it ends! Smooth bramble fruit, plums too. Soft tannins and a good finish. I am holding the Society to their view that this will keep till 2025 and buying more accordingly!"
Dr Brian Metters (26-Mar-2018)
"Gorgeous stuff! My first ever pinotage, but surely not my last - rich, with the fruity, gamey taste of pinot noir definitely indentifiable, but perfectly balanced and rounded. Red fruit stands out, and the 14.5% doesn't seem aggressive. Definitely recommended!"
Mr Maximilian Yuen (07-Mar-2018)
The Times (3rd Nov 2018)
tangy, savoury, mocha, liquorice and black olive-layered pinotage. - Jane MacQuitty"
"Though it stated that it's made by Kanonkop, it is nothing like Kanonkop. Way too much acidity, harsh tannins. Feels more as if grapes where collected unripe or something went wrong in the process. Decanting didn't help at all, after 5 hours bottle went down the drain as it got even worse. Complete disbalance. KWV pinotage that is stocked by Society is way better."
Mr Sergej Sidorov (04-Sep-2017)
The Scotsman (25th Feb 2017)
"Made by ex-lawyer
Johan Krige at his top pioneering pinotage estate, Kanonkop, this is plummy
well-rounded pinotage with earthy undertones with a quirky spiciness. - Rose Murray Brown"
The Buyer (16th Feb 2017)
"Bright, clean, juicy,
great freshness and vibrancy. - Roger Jones"
Mr Brian Cannell (12-Aug-2016)
"Big mouth filling dark fruit but nicely savoury rather than the sweet jammyness sometimes associated with some less accomplished producers of this variety. For my taste a bit of an alcohol burn at the finish, but overall good."
Dr Philip Dodd (09-Jul-2015)
"Big fruits that progress to a caramelised savoury earthiness. Much softer and none of the new car tyres nose that I've had with the supermarket Pinotages. Like a new world Southern Rhône with caramel."
Mr Anthony O'Halloran (22-Jun-2015)
"I cannot agree with Mr Waistnidge comments about this delightful wine. I have not drunk Piontage since the 90s. This wine is very good plum red fruit jumps out of the glass smooth and round with no sharp tannins. The legs stream down the glass making this a wonderful mouthfilling drink. I am now a big fan of this grape and will be buying more. Maybe Mr Waistnidge had a bad bottle try another one please Sir.
Mr Lawrence Marshom (28-Mar-2015)
"Have tasted a number of different bottles of Pinotage, the favourite so far being DeWaal top of the hill. This I am afraid is the worst I have tasted by some way. No depth to it, actually tastes like a cheap Pinot Noir. Very disappointing."
Mr Neil Waistnidge (21-Mar-2015)
"Good deep colour with the classic pinotage aroma of rubber and black fruit. Don't let that put you off, in the mouth it has great round tannins with deep flavour of dark fruit and a slight gamey finish with some good acidity. A great example of the classic South African varietal."
Mr Neil Dyas (19-Feb-2015)
"I've been hunting round for some Beyerskloof reserve pinotage which is a great wine but nowadays hard to find at a decent price and decided to look at The Society's website to see what was available. I was delighted to find that you are now offering an exhibition pinotage, something I have been looking forward to for a few years. I experienced a small hiccup when collecting since the wine is delivered from Kanonkop in Kadette boxes. I got a very polite confirmation that the exhibition wine is indeed specially produced for The Society and having tried our first bottle last night (without food!) I can confirm that this is indeed an excellent wine with great balance. The Pinotage grape became a favourite while we were living in South Africa in the 1970s and I have to say that after Kanonkop's own flagship wine this is the best - and at a great price. I'm now wondering if I've done myself a disservice since there may be none left when we run out!!"
Mr Peter L Bennett (19-Jan-2015)
Decanter (27th May 2015)
"Is pinotage seeing a
renaissance? It seems so, and this example from Kanonkop may convert you.
Fermented in open concrete tanks, the bright nose is plummy and generous with
enticing smoke and spice. The savoury palate has rich plum fruit and a smooth
structure. - Weekday Wines"
Sheffield Profile (1st May 2015)
"An enticing wine with
rich aromas and good potential for further ageing. Lots of pepper, some
creaminess and an array of complex flavours abound - from plums and dark red
fruits to citrus peel. Enjoy with spicy foods and red meat. - Richard Marsden"
The Scotsman (28th Mar 2015)
"For those who love
this quirky, spicy South African grape, this is extremely good value pinotage
made by the Cape’s famed Kanonkop estate. Ex-lawyer Johann Krige and his
charming family run this historic pinotage estate near Stellenbosch. - Rose Murray Brown"
wineanorak.com (3rd Mar 2015)
fermented in open concrete lagares. Deep coloured, this has a fresh sweet
blackcurrant fruit nose with some green characters and a hint of mint. The
palate is supple with a green edge to the raspberry fruit. It’s sweet and fresh
with a vivid personality, and a hint of grip. 89/100 - Jamie Goode"
York Press (31st Jan 2015)
"This is a decent
example and good value for under a tenner. Full bodied and juicy, it oozes
raspberry and plum fruit with vanilla, spice and some smoky oak. It would make
a good partner for gourmet burgers or sausages. - Mike Tipping"
Kent & Sussex Courier (30th Jan 2015)
full-bodied wine, traditionally fermented in open concrete vessels, with a
quick extraction, is laden with character and packed with fragrant red and
black berry fruits including plums, coffee, raisins, chocolate and some
oriental spices which mingle in a delicious mouth-filling mix. A truly bold,
elegant and rich winter warmer with a subtle smoky edge that will be a
revelation to those habituated to coarse and rustic editions of pinotage. There
is no burnt rubber here! It has the structure to evolve attractively over the
next five years, becoming earthier [and] meatier. - James Viner"
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