Pinotage is probably the most controversial cultivar in SA. The mere mention of its name provokes stronger reactions from wine enthusiasts than even the names of our more mendacious politicians. Most of the people who revile it do so either because their opinions were formed in the distant past, or because they consider it witty and fashionable to make it the whipping boy of all that was once bad about Cape wine.

Those with long memories (and no current tasting experience) at least have a shadow of history on their side. Many pinotages before the 1990s had a distinct “varnish” or acetone note; several made in the early 2000s a “burnt rubber” pong — no doubt the result of poor cellar practices.

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