8 South African Pinotages You Should Know

Not every New World winemaking country can claim that it has a heritage grape variety—one they have single-handedly bred and can call their own. If you’re familiar with South African wines, then you know we’re talking about none other than Pinotage, which is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault. Created in 1925 by Stellenbosch University Professor, Abraham Izak Perold, the first bottling of Pinotage was not actually made until 1941. And while the wine has seen its fair share of ups and downs over the decades—you’ve likely heard a swath of criticism—the scores for these wines are looking better than ever today.

Now, that’s now to say there aren’t simple, easy-drinking Pinotages out there that may show better next to some food—or worse, ones that turn you off from the varietal completely—but there are definitely producers making complex expressions that are worth your attention.

In Neal Martin’s recent South Africa report, just published in Wine Advocate Issue 230, we’d like to guide you towards eight distinct Pinotages that should definitely be on your radar. These Pinotages range between 91 and 94 points, and prices range between $25-100, so there’s room for exploration without emptying your wallet. These recommendations come complete with praise from Martin and available prices are indicated. We have every faith that if you snatch up one of these Pinotages, any preconceived notions you have about this varietal will be changed:

2015 Kanonkop • Black Label Pinotage
“...immensely impressive expression of Pinotage.” $200

2015 B Vintners • Liberte
“This is a Pinotage exemplar.”

2014 Kanonkop • Black Label Pinotage
“...cellar this away for 4-5 years, because I am sure it will develop, rewarding secondary notes and flavors.” $200

2015 Ashbourne
"I appreciate the backbone and focus here." $50-55

2015 Flagstone • Writer's Block Pinotage
“This is as much about texture as flavor—a cashmere Pinotage…” $50

2015 Longridge Wine Estate • Pinotage
“...caressing finish that is an absolute joy. This is an outstanding Pinotage.” $25

2015 Southern Right • Pinotage
“Lovely balance here, a suave Pinotage to enjoy over several years.” $25

2013 Rijk's • Reserve Pinotage
“...another very well-crafted Pinotage.” $100

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