2002 Siyabonga Pinotage

OK, I must admit, I’m becoming quite a fan of Pinotage. I blame Joel and Sally Goldberg most of all. Anyway, over the course of a week in Paarl and Stellenbosch, I tasted quite a few, and they seemed to drop into two categories: sleekly metrosexual, with all of the roughness and vulgarity efficiently excised, or rustic hillbilly, redolent of sweaty possums with a rough, screeching finish.

A few managed to keep a good balance, avoiding some of the winemaking nasties of the latter but without dropping into the facelessness of the former. My favorite among these was the ’02 Siyabonga from a vineyard near Wellington. There’s some contradictory information floating past me about the age of the vines, but from the flavor profile, I’d guess “old.” The depth and texture sure suggest it. There’s a remarkable amplitude of flavor and aroma, but without the overalcoholic heaviness I’ve seen in too many of the new-wave versions. And did I mention the gamy black fruit aroma? No? Well, let me mention it. The Siyaboga finishes strongly, showing enough roughness to let you know it’s a Pinotage, but not so much that you wonder if you’ll need an antibiotic afterwards. Impressive and about $12-18.

SY (6/04)