Semillon and Pinotage six pack

This month we’ve put together a small introduction to Semillon and Pinotage. Buy these 6 wines for R1068.00 (value R1180.00)

Semillon is one of the Bordeaux white varietals and is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc to make classic, age-worthy whites as well as iconic botrytised Sauternes dessert wines. It’s had a long history in SA where it was commonly called groendruif. By 1822 it covered 93% of total vineyard plantings, but the price dropped drastically over the years and by the 1970’s it covered just 3% of vineyard land and in 2012 had just 1.2% (Dave March – Semillon seems to be experiencing a bit of a revival amongst wine consumers, but it has some way to go to be in the same league as say, chenin blanc / sauvignon blanc. These 3 examples selected are from 3 different regions and are more restrained than the semillon we became familiar with about a decade ago – less oak influence, less ripe, less waxy (viscous). Other examples you could look at to give you a broader view of Semillon in SA: Thorne & Daughters Paper Kite and Tin Soldier, Spice Route from Darling fruit, Steenberg from Constantia is especially delicious with at least 5 years bottle age, or the Ghost Corner by Dawid Nieuwoudt from Elim. Not to mention the Rooi Groendruif (semillon gris) by Adam Mason under the Raised by Wolves label. There is a Semillon vineyard (.69ha) registered with the Old Vine Project planted in 1902. For more on the Old Vine Project,go to

BLOEMENDAL SEMILLON 2014 (Durbanville) – whole bunch pressed into tank, settled for 48 hours & inoculated. Once fermentation kicks off, the juice is transferred to 80% 2nd-fill and 20% 1st fill French oak and is barrel matured for 9 months (500l). Subtle aromas of lime juice, apple and citrus flower on the nose, leading to a structured mouth feel. This wine will age gracefully and develop an enticing perfume over a period of up to eight years. An impressive wine with a fine, textural feel. Delicate on the palate, but has incredible presence.

This vintage is bottled from two vineyards (bush vines and dry land farmed) planted in 1960 and 1972. The grapes were skin fermented for a week before being pressed and transferred to an old foudré. Picked very fresh and early to maintain the perception of freshness, whilst the tannin creates a back-bone. You’ll notice the Old Vine Project seal on the bottle. Sleek and smooth with yellow fruit, blossom & hints of citrus.

CATHERINE MARSHALL SEMILLON 2015 (Elgin). Cathy used to blend a small portion of Semillon into her Sauvignon Blanc to fill out the mid-palate and add weight, but she fell in love with this wine and, lucky for us, released it as a stand-alone wine. Seamless and delicious

Pinotage is a much-maligned grape developed in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The ‘parents’ are Pinot Noir and Hermitage (Cinsaut). Prof Perold crossed these two & landed up with 4 seeds which he planted in his garden in 1925. In 1927 they were replanted in the nursery at Elsenburg Agricultural College. The first Pinotage wine was produced in 1941. For more on the history of this South African grape go to:
A few of the reasons people have given for disliking Pinotage – jammy, flabby, over-ripe strawberry and banana, bitter. The introduction of the “coffee Pinotage” a few years back led to a resurgence of interest in the grape, but that style now has its own critics. Producers like Kanonkop, Laibach, Beeslaar and Kaapzicht have superb examples along with cooler climate producers, Hamilton Russell (Ashbourne) and Spioenkop. A newer style has hit the wine scene which delivers a chillable wine which is light & fresh with a vibrant floral & red berry profile, e.g Tremayne Smith’s Hell Yeah Pinotage (to be released soon), Wightman, Gouws and Clarke (Swartland fruit in a Beaujolais style) as well as the Winery of Good Hope Pinotage by Radford Dale wines. I’ve selected these 3 wines:

FALSE BAY Bushvine PINOTAGE 2016 – by Nadia Barnard, cellar master at Waterkloof wines from a vineyard planted in 1996. Hand-harvested coastal fruit, basket press and wild yeast ferments with additions avoided make for a delicious everyday wine. Elegant, medium body with red fruit and spice.

DAVID AND NADIA TOPOGRAPHY PINOTAGE 2017 (Swartland) By husband and wife team, David and Nadia Sadie. Harvested right in the middle of January of 2017 and left on the skins for three weeks in total during fermentation in 2000l and 4000l foudre (10% whole bunch). A delicate and vibrant wine showing notes of cherry tobacco, raspberry and spice. Fine grippy tannin draws out the finish. Delicious now, but will benefit with some age. Definitely hints at the Pinot Noir parent.

RIJKS PRIVATE CELLAR PINOTAGE 2013 (Tulbach) Always a winner! This producer is often in the Pinotage Top10 and rightly so. Winemaker Pierre Wahl, Cape Winemakers’ Guild member, produces 3 Pinotages at Rijks, Touch of Oak, Private Cellar and Reserve. Complex and vibrant nose of red berries, ripe cherry and plum backed by pure fruit. These delicious fruity aromas carry through onto a rich creamy palate with superb concentration of tannins and well-integrated oak with subtle spice complimenting the fruit. Develops a wonderful leathery/spice profile with age.


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