South African Wine

Southern Right Pinotage 2009, Walker Bay, South Africa

The Southern Right estate is located close to the old fishing village of Hermanus near Walker Bay in South Africa and is exposed to the cooling breezes of the ocean which is around 3km away. The vineyard is named after the Southern Right whales which frequent the Hermanus area and is heavy in clay.

The Southern Right Pinotage 2009 is a blend with Pinotage 94.0%, Petit Verdot 2.0%, Malbec 2.0%, Cab 1.0%, and Cab Franc 1.0%. This vintage was characterised by a higher than usual number of sunshine days but which did not result in excessive heat and 2009 was a cooler vintage than average. The grapes of 2009 were characterized by high acidity, low pH, excellent colour, prominent fruit perfume and high tannin. 

Long notes of oak, smokiness, spice mix with fruit in this excellent example of a Pinotage with cooler climate character. There is no overpowering fruit here due to the cooling sea breezes as can be the case with many Pinotage's but plenty of cherry and plum like aromas and flavour on the way down. A very different experience and one to be recommended if you're looking for something different to the bog standard shiraz and cabernet sauvignon from the southern hemisphere.

The Grinder 2011 Pinotage S. Africa

This pinotage from the Western Cape of South Africa does was it says on the tin - you are hit by fruit, chocolate and coffee. Cocoa, raspberry and spice all in one. This wine has a lot going on, one of the reasons why it stood out. Not subtle by any means, but brilliant with red meat. A really nice Pinotage at a reasonable price.

Rustenberg John X Merriman 2009, Simonsberg, South Africa

Drunk July 2012


The winery

Rustenberg has a wine-growing history dating back to 1682, when Roelof Pasman from Meurs, near the Rhine, recognised its wine-growing potential. In the early 1800s Rustenberg was divided by owner Jacob Eksteen and a section was given to his son-in-law, who named it Schoongezicht and sold it soon after. Rustenberg and Schoongezicht were at their peak around 1812. But by mid-century, recession coupled with disease caused the vineyard to go bankrupt.

Schoongezicht was rescued in 1892 by John X Merriman (who was to become Prime Minister of the Cape), and Rustenberg by his brother-in-law Sir Jacob Barry. Together they revitalised the farms. Fruit was sent to Covent Garden; new vines were grafted onto disease-resistant American rootstock; wines were exported to England and the Continent.

In 1941 Peter and Pamela Barlow bought Rustenberg, later acquiring Schoongezicht and reuniting the properties. Their son Simon took over the running of the farm in 1987. The Barlows have been at the property for over 60 years: the longest period any one family has owned the farm.


The wine

The Rustenberg John X Merriman is a blend of  51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec The grapes are from vineyards in Simonsberg, near Stellenbosch in the Cape area of South Africa.

The separate batches were blended after 11 months and then returned to barrel for a further 9 months' maturation. (46% new and 54% 2nd- and 3rd-fill 225L French oak barrels).

The oak really hits you on the nose in this Merriman 2009 and there is plenty of flavour in multiple layers with heavy duty fruit interwoven with tannins and dry notes. Nice stuff, particularly at this discounted price from Waitrose. Recommended.

DeWaal Pinotage 2009 Stellenbosch South Africa



I really enjoyed this pinotage from Stellenboschkloof Valley 7km to the west of Stellenbosch in the Cape area of South Africa. Not over powered with fruit but plenty of complexity of cherries and plums. Juicy and full bodies that is for certain. South African pinotage is seldom highly rated, but this is a superb accompanient for a steak on the BBQ.