- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Fairview, Pinotage, Paarl, South Africa, 2005, $14.

Pinotage is a South African original. Created at Stellenbosch University back in the 1920s by researchers who crossed pinot noir with cinsault vines, it tastes truly distinct.Sometimes this individuality can seem off-putting, as poor wines made from pinotage can smell something like wet oil paint. But good examples taste excitingly different, with plenty of dark fruit flavors coupled with an enticing meatiness. They’re great partners with stews, casseroles, even chili.

This young pinotage constitutes a fine, reasonably priced introduction to the grape and wine. Its dark plum and blackberry flavors are appealing by themselves, but the wine becomes really interesting once its deep, earthy aftertaste comes to the fore. Medium-bodied, with relatively soft tannins, it nonetheless tastes rich and concentrated.

A good youthful pinotage like this provides especially good drinking this time of year. It’s vibrant but at the same time fully satisfying, so it bridges the gap between lightweight summer sippers and heartier cold-weather reds.

Do decant it, though. An hour or so in a pitcher or jug will allow all its appealing aromas to emerge. (Imported by Vineyard Brands.)


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