South African Pinotage:

tasting by Decanter


Decanter macht nach 22 Jahren eine zweite Pinotage-Degustation von südafrikanischen Weinen.

The second Pinotage tasting of South African wines (and the first in 22 years) was a great success. The judges praised the considerable development evident in the extensive range.

Greg Sherwood MW, Victoria Mason and Roger Jones tasted 142 wines and found an impressive 7 «Outstanding» and 69 «Highly Recommended».

The cliché that Pinotage is a true «Marmite» wine is definitely starting to fade as more and more producers are making high quality wines. Thanks largely to large-scale plantings and plots of older vines, Pinotage wines exude a real sense of place, with the best examples grown on all three of South Africa’s main soil types: old sandstone, shale and decomposed granite.

Like Chardonnay, Pinotage allows the winemaker to distinguish himself stylistically. However, one of the true strengths and unique selling points of the variety is its ability to produce a variety of dry red wines – wines with lots of juicy fruit up front that also have excellent medium to long-term cellaring qualities.

The Decanter’s first Pinotage panel tasting took place in 1999. With an impressive 142 wines, the judges hoped to see a real diversity of styles and a huge improvement in quality. After two full days of tasting, Victoria Mason said her expectations were more than met. She felt that from light and subtle to bold and powerful, Pinotage is capable of producing delicious wines made in very different ways:

«Harvested early to ensure lower alcohol and excellent freshness, or harvested later at 14% to 15% alcohol, Pinotage has the ability to carry both maturity and alcohol with harmony and balance on the palate with relative ease».

Roger Jones held up the flag for the «crowd pleasers», saying that they «should not be dismissed because they highlight the chocolate and espresso fruit bomb style that so many consumers continue to seek out and enjoy».

Mason added: «A common thread that ran through almost all the wines – and which we all commented on several times – was the refreshing acidity that balanced the concentrated, sweet fruit and higher alcohol levels.» Jones also pointed to the influence of regionality on the quality and style of the wines. While Swartland produced wines with «spice, texture and a dark blackberry wildness», he found that Stellenbosch and the Cape South Coast, including Elgin and Cape Agulhas, delivered refined, elegant styles that were softer on fruit.”

Mason agreed: «Alcohol levels were generally lower and acidity almost refreshing, resulting in such drinkable, flavoursome wines – wines very similar to their Pinot Noir and Cinsault heritage and redefining the old-fashioned notion of Pinotage.

While the judges found some wines overly extracted and puffy, they were generally impressed with the use of oak. Mason said: «The tasting showed time and again that Pinotage shows a natural affinity for generous oak treatment – both French and American – and that it is equally comfortable when unoaked or aged in big, old oak.»

It was fabulous to taste such a wide range of Pinotage wines and experience how far these wines have come in terms of quality. All the judges agreed that there are two dominant styles and whether you like the light and subtle or the bold and powerful, quality and sophistication shone through in the top examples.

Discover all the South African wines below, with the ratings.


Pinotage – 2018
Available from approx. end of March


95 Points by Decanter

The Beeslaar Pinotage presents itself in the glass in an intense ruby-red colour, which indicates the still young age of the wine. On the nose, beguiling aromas of cherries and black fruits find wonderfully balanced harmony in the warm notes of cinnamon and cedar. Its lusciously rich texture continues to develop beautifully on the palate. It is recommended to decant the wine two hours before serving.

Killer Deal – from 6 Bottles
Pinotage Reserve – 2018
CHF 16.90 instead of CHF 24.90


91 Points by Decanter

Beyerskloof was founded in 1988 and expanded its portfolio to include Pinotage and Cape Blends in 2001. Beyerskloof owns 30 hectares of Pinotage vineyards in the Bottelary Hills region, which is considered one of the best Pinotage crops in the Cape. Winemakers Beyers and Anri Truter select only the 10 best barrels for their reserve range. Greg Sherwood MW: An exquisite aroma of violets and cherry blossom follows a palate of crystalline beauty, tart fresh acidity in a harmonious, seamless package of joy. Simply exceptional. Roger Jones: Fresh ripeness with a luxurious silky velvety texture, blueberries, blueberries, then cherries. A seamless, luxurious, silky liquid. Victoria Mason: Sweet raspberry and red plum flavours, with vanilla and spice. Big and bold, but with refreshingly tangy acidity that keeps the alcohol in check. Velvety tannins.

Sold Out – Best Hit                                                         
Killer Deal – from 6 Bottles 
Pinotage – Screw Cap – 2021
CHF 9.90 instead of CHF 14.90


95 Points by Decanter

Darling Cellars is located on the west coast between Malmesbury and Darling. The cool, temperate climate lends itself to a variety of different micro and mesoclimates, which, together with the different soil types, result in very different styles of wine. The Chocoholic Pinotage comes from bush vines on decomposed granite soils. Greg Sherwood MW: The nose shows layered complexity of black cherry, notes of cherry liqueur, blueberry and vinyl. Opulent palate with seamless tannins, harmonious acids and a creamy, long length. Roger Jones: Cocoa and espresso on the nose. An explosion of berries and velvet on the palate. A fruit bomb, but great acidity and freshness. Victoria Mason: Aromas of espresso and roasted coffee over black and red plum fruit. Concentrated palate, with cherry fruit and pronounced smoky bacon.


Pinotage – 2020
CHF 29.00

95 Points by Decanter

Jolandie Fouche was born in Cape Town and grew up in the Swartland. After more than a decade of making a name for herself in the South African wine industry, she decided to devote herself to her heart’s project, Wolf & Woman Wines. This Pinotage is made from grapes sourced from a single vineyard of bush vines in the Paardeberg region, which has been farmed on granite soils and dry land since 1973. Greg Sherwood MW: It has a dark fruity nose with exotic notes of peach shining through. The palate shows red plum, sweet and tart brightness with a subtle red cherry twist on the finish. Cool, mineral and elegant. Roger Jones: Polished nose, dark blueberries, with some marzipan and spice. Very bright, needs time. Wild strawberries on the finish. Victoria Mason: Fresh and inviting. Super juicy and fresh on the palate too – with a stony mineral intensity. Tangy cherry acidity, very fine-grained tannins. A juicy, spicy note on the finish.

AkSpecial Offer

Pinotage – Single Block – 2018
CHF 39.90 instead of CHF 49.90


94 Points by Decanter

Tart nose with clean and concentrated soft cherries, blueberries, cedar, vanilla and a hint of spicy notes. Elegant palate, fine-boned and structured with real class. Bright acidity supported by great concentration.

Sale Out – Best Hit
Killer Deal – from 6 Bottles
Amandelboord – Pinotage – 2019
CHF 16.90 instead of CHF24.90


93 Points by Decanter

Aromatic scents of vine leaves, violets, crushed strawberries, blueberries and herbaceous notes. Very creamy on the palate, with lots of concentration and fine-grained tannins.

Sale Out – Best Hit
Special Offer
21 Gables – Pinotage – 2017
CHF 31.90 instead of CHF 39.90


93 Points by Decanter

Superb aromas of pure oak, mint and spice, with undertones of tea leaves, blackberries and black plums. Seamless texture and balance, with a delicate, spicy character.

Special Offer
Diesel – Pinotage – 2018
CHF 79.00 instead of CHF 95.00


92 Points by Decanter

Spicy nose with spicy notes of cedar, cinnamon and chocolate over black cherry and stewed plums. Fresh on the palate with a firm texture.

Special Offer
Carpe Diem – Pinotage – 2018
CHF 24.00 instead of CHF 29.00

92 Points by Decanter

Fresh fruity aromas of sour plums, blueberries, potpourri and polished oak. Harmonious and opulent with a precise, concentrated finish. Impressive and refreshing.

Sale Out – Best Hit
Special Offer
Collection – Pinotage – 2019
CHF 24.90 instead of CHF 32.00


92 Points by Decanter

Complex aromas of intriguing crushed black pepper, blackberries, dark plums, smoke and fynbos. Very concentrated, rich and spicy, with a creamy texture.

All prices in CHF incl. VAT. Daily price as of 08.03.2022.
Offers valid while stocks last. Errors and price changes subject to change.