kelly magyarics

washington, d.c.-based wine, spirits, travel & lifestyle writer / wine educator


Taming the Savage

Pinotage is one of those "love it or hate it" kind of wines, sort of a diamond in the rough that's not really meant to be polished. It can have funky aromas and flavors ranging from smoked meat, to rubber tires, to nail polish. But with the right grape growing and winemaking skills, these unusual components can be interesting and attractive attributes.

I've always been in the "love it" camp when it comes to Pinotage, but then again, I like funky flavors in wine. The PR firm representing Golden Kaan winery recently sent me a sample bottle of their Pinotage. I remember trying it a few years ago, and thinking that it was a decent economy-priced introduction to the grape.

This time around, I couldn't help but be a bit disappointed. The wine was pleasant enough, and easy drinking, but that was the problem. I didn't really taste the varietal character of Pinotage--this wine was more like a mass-produced Shiraz. The amount of sugar that was left in the wine even made me draw a comparison to the made-for-the-American-market Yellow Tail. Don't get me wrong--it wasn't a bad wine, and for $8-$10 a bottle, it's certainly quaffable. It just didn't scream "Pinotage" to me.