New contenders for bragging rights among South Africa’s top wines from Pinot Noir include a trio from Cape Agulhas

ASK ABOUT top SA Pinot Noir and the main signposts point to Elgin, Walker Bay, Hemel-en-Aarde… There are exceptions – chief among them Chamonix of Franschhoek – but typically it’s a case of Hamilton Russell, Bouchard Finlayson, Newton Johnson, Sumaridge, Oak Valley, Paul Cluver, Crystallum, Shannon…

However, there’s now another cool-climate district putting up its hand, so to speak. The first Pinot from Cape Agulhas was produced at the Elim cellar of Strandveld Vineyards (who also field a version under their second label First Sighting). Next up was Ghost Corner (grown in Elim, vinified at David Nieuwoudt’s cellar in the Cederberg). And the most recent expression of Cape Agulhas Pinot on the market is that of Lomond (grown near Gansbaai, vinified at the Bergkelder in Stellenbosch).

It’s early days still, just a few vintages down the line, but already they’ve got people talking. The first/2009 Strandveld Pinot Noir was praised in the local Classic Wine magazine and the current-release 2010 is good too, albeit perhaps needing a little more time in the bottle. The second/2013 Ghost Corner was enjoyed at the Decanter Awards judging in the UK this year. And at an informal blind tasting hosted by Top Wine SA in Cape Town suburbia the maiden/2012 vintage of Lomond Pinot Noir (R115pb) was the favourite among several of the wine lovers invited to sample a line-up including the Strandveld (R200pb), the Ghost Corner (R182pb) and, as the outlier/benchmark, the 2012 Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak (R265pb).

Herewith some of the producers’ background info and tasting notes:

David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner 2013: Prominent ripe cherries and sweet raspberries with an undertone of earthy, mushroom nuances. Berries and delicate oak components following through. 11 months in a combination of new and used 228-litre French oak barrels. 13.5% Vol. Good with mushroom soup or crispy duck and chicken dishes.

Lomond 2012: Showing cherries and ripe strawberries, rose petals and a hint of cinnamon spice. Medium length. 12 months in used French oak barrels. 13.13% Vol. Good with oily fish, game and white meat dishes.

Strandveld 2010: Wild strawberry and sour cherry followed by a savoury richness of tannins and spice with a pronounced minerality.
11 months in French oak barrels (40% new). 13.6% Vol.