While still with our gracious hosts of Oliver and Nina, dinner was finished. What would be considered the norm, when two wine Bloggers get together the conversation always returns to wine. We were still discussing the “dirt” or terroir of the Tudor Pinot Noir that we had enjoyed with dinner, which led to the ladies discussing their enjoyment of full bodied red wines, my Bride being overly fond of Cabernet Franc and Nina mentioning Pinotage. I had remarked that we had only tried one Pinotage wine and I was not enamored with it. Oliver then remarked that it was only because most of the Pinotage wines that are seen in the states are poor examples of the wine, and not a true depiction of what the wine could be. He went on to say that a true Pinotage has a taste that goes beyond terroir and has to be experienced, and then he smiled.
He left the three of us and ventured over to another room and grabbed a bottle of Tukulu Pinotage 2007 and said that it was the last of his cache, but that I had to experience this unique wine. The wine is from Darling, New South Africa and in particular from the Papkuilsfontein Vineyards, which is a joint venture of Distell, South Africa’s leading wine and spirits producer; a consortium of black entrepreneurs and a trust representing the local Groenekloof community. Members of this community work the land. Oliver warned me as he was opening the wine, that not only would I taste the dirt, but burned rubber, paint and petrol, not the descriptive verbiage that one thinks of, when one discusses wine. I must say that he was right, and the first taste was overpowering, especially after the feminine mystique of the Pinot Noir; here we were being pummeled with a sledge hammer of tastes and noses. Which is very hard to imagine from reading because Pinotage is a cross varietal of Pinot Noir and Cinsault (also known as Hermitage) and the wine shows no influence of these two European varietals. After the initial shock to the senses of this very unique wine, it tended to grow on me, and the sledge hammer effect dissipated and we continued discussing wines, Blogging and some of the acquaintances that Oliver had made in his quest for more knowledge of wines.
When Oliver and I were discussing wines for the dinner, I had offered to bring a desert wine as well, and Oliver said that he had something special for the evening and left it at that. My natural curiosity was piqued to say the least, but I looked forward to it, as I was sure that it would be an aged Riesling that Oliver tends to wax poetic about on occasion, and he knew that my knowledge of the wines was lacking. The final wine of the evening was a Vereinigte Hospitien Piesporter Schubertslay Riesling Spatlese 2003. The Vereinigte Hospitien translates to Unified Hospitals, in the same context as the Hospices de Beaune that I recently discussed in a couple of articles. Piesporter was a small village that has now annexed another large area of land across the river, and Oliver went and showed me some pictures from a book of the original village and of the area that is now part of this famed name. Schubertslay is an important vineyard of the original Piesporter, while the Riesling is the name of the varietal, and Spatlese is a special term for late harvesting of some of the grapes which have more concentrated sugar content. Outside of a few French Sauternes wines that I have had over the years, I am leery of older white wines as they tend to turn, just as a lot of red wines can turn as they age. This golden colored wine had a wonderful nose to it, and a very rich caramel or toffee aftertaste that was not overpowering or cloying, but rich and noble. It was a true pleasure enjoying this wine after the other three wines that we had for the evening. While I have had some Spatlese and Auslese wines before, this aged bottle was a totally different taste and now I can truly understand why Oliver gets so emphatic about his favorite varietal. It was a most enjoyable wine, and we were sorry to see the bottle finished as we knew the evening was coming to an end. So as we left thanking our hosts, we wished them a fond goodbye and wishes that they enjoy their trip to Alaska, and I do look forward to reading about his adventures there.
What great reviews, John, and I am humbled by your descriptions of the wines. It was an utter pleasure sharing these two gems with you, just like you and Judy were so gracious in sharing with us. And I am very glad to see you really enjoyed both wines.
Regarding the Pinotage, now imagine this wine a bit younger, and you’ll see how powerful they are. This one had settled down a bit, but as I wrote on my blog, was by far not on its way out…:)
Oliver, it was a true pleasure to enjoy these wines with you and Nina. I hope you are enjoying Alaska, as there was not enough snow in Michigan to satisfy you. LOL
In more ways, it is so true. You will have to come to Michigan for a visit.
I will have to. Trying to figure out when and how…
So the next time I am out in Ann Arbor, we should try to all get together!
I agree to this idea. Maybe we can all have a good duck dinner, and of course some wine.