We at Clos Malverne (and also many Cape winemakers) believe that Pinotage is that special factor in the South African mix and that the grape’s future lies in playing a supportive role in a Cape blend rather than braving the world by itself. As a premium Pinotage producer we are not biased, as our Pinotage Reserve 2000 (our current vintage) has won a gold medal at the 2002 International Wine & Spirit Competition in London and was also awarded a 4 ½ star rating in the 2003 John Platter Wine Guide.
Since the 1992 vintage we have experimented with Pinotage blended with other noble varieties. ( Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot) The original blend had 40% Pinotage, but this has now decreased to between 20% and 30%. Since 1995 Auret has been our flagship, which year after year won numerous awards. This wine has also made great inroads into the export market.
Playing around with the precise proportions of Pinotage in the mix, we found that Pinotage becomes more dominant as the wine ages. Astringency and bitterness are two of the inherent risks in making Pinotage. We found that these can be softened when around 25% is blended with other noble varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This proportion of 25% Pinotage is in our opinion “the perfect proportion,” but may not necessary concur with everybody in the wine industry. But despite it’s minor role, Pinotage adds a different dimension to the wine.
The Auret (60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Pinotage and 15% Merlot) is thus what we believe a Cape blend should be. What we are doing compares well to a “Bordeaux-style” blend. The proof is in the bottle with the 1998 Clos Malverne Auret which was awarded with a 5-star rating in the 2002 John Platter Wine Guide. This was the only such blend to receive this high rating and the speaks more loudly than the academic debate on the subject. Other accolades for this wine were – WINE 4 ½ stars, SAA, Diners Club shortlist for the Cape Blend, Veritas Double Gold.) Previous vintages have done equally well and the follow-ups - the 2001 will be available soon – waves the flag brazenly.
Although we have achieved critical acclaim and commercial success with the Auret, we believe that this is just the beginning. We have given ourselves a hard act to follow and we cannot be complacent.
The Auret not only renders a traditional Cape blend, but is what our wine industry needs, a uniquely South African product.
We not only produce the Auret, but also a Cabernet/Pinotage blend, which is an excellent wine. The 1998 vintage won a Gold Medal at the Veritas awards, as well as a Gold Medal awarded by the Wineland Magazine. The 1999 vintage won a Michelangelo Gold. We now have extended our range of “Cape blends” to four wines.
Other South African “Cape blends” have also recently done exceedingly well. The Three Cape Ladies 2000 of Warwick has been awarded the second best South African wine rating ever with a score of 92 out of 100 in one of the latest issues of the U.S. Wine Spectator. According to MD Mike Ratcliffe, “The addition of Pinotage to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot creates a wine that is intrinsically South African, with a strong point of difference in a crowded world market.”