Synonymous with Pinotage, Lanzerac’s Pionier among the best in 2017
THE STORY of how Pinotage came to be is well documented by the producers’ association, and there are eight names in the South African winelands associated with the establishment of the cultivar that remain classified as champions of the variety: KWV (of Paarl), DeWaal, Lanzerac, Kanonkop, Simonsig, Delheim and Spier (all of Stellenbosch), as well as Groot Constantia. Of these, it was great to see Lanzerac included among the Absa Top 10 again after a long interval, this time for the 2014 vintage of Lanzerac’s flagship Pionier.
The first Pinotage released for sale as Pinotage (rather than as part of a blend) was a 1959 Lanzerac, which Stellenbosch Farmers Winery (now Distell) bottled and put onto the market in 1961. Back then, the Lanzerac trademark was owned by SFW, who subsequently sold the brand to Christo Wiese, owner of the Lanzerac farm and hotel from the 1990s until 2012, when he sold the property and the trademark to a consortium of businessmen who value their anonymity. It was Wiese who built the winery at Lanzerac in the Jonkershoek Valley of Stellenbosch and who initiated replanting of the vineyards to a standard befitting the historic estate dating back to 1692.
It’s also in the Jonkershoek Valley, next to Lanzerac, that the Mostertsdrift ‘village vineyard’ is located. Nicknamed the ‘Perold block’ in honour of the man responsible for crossing Pinot Noir and Hermitage (Cinsaut), it is planted exclusively to South Africa’s most successful ‘indigenous’ variety and serves as an experimental vineyard. Instead of parallel rows, the vines stretch out from a central point in the shape of a fan – the objective being to evaluate the different rows in terms of how they are affected by different exposure to sunlight.
Talk about a farm synonymous with Pinotage! The Lanzerac Pioneer 2014 is a single-vineyard wine from 18-year-old vines. According to cellarmaster Wynand Lategan: “Dense, concentrated fruit and layers of different flavours… Nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon surround plums, prunes, berries and currants… soft, silky tannins.” More here.
TOP-RATED PINOTAGE IN 2017 TO DATE
Limited to current releases, excluding museum class laureates:
• Allée Bleue 2015 – R185pb ex-cellar in Franschhoek
• Bosman 2014 – R225pb ex-cellar in Wellington
• Delheim 2012 – R125pb ex-cellar in Stellenbosch
• Diemersfontein Carpe Diem 2015 – R199pb ex-cellar in Wellington
• Flagstone Writer’s Block Single Vineyard 2015 – R250pb ex-cellar in Somerset West
• Golden Triangle 2014 of Stellenzicht – R110pb ex-cellar in Stellenbosch
• La Cave 2016 of Wellington Wines – R150pb ex-cellar
• Lanzerac Pionier 2014 – R700pb ex-cellar in Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch
• MKM 2015 of Môreson – R750pb ex-cellar in Franschhoek
• Neil Ellis Bottelary Hills 2015 – R300pb ex-cellar in Stellenbosch
• Painted Wolf Guillermo Swartland 2013 – R190pb ex-producer in Paarl
• Simonsig Redhill 2014 – R320pb ex-cellar in Stellenbosch
• Spier 21 Gables 2014 – R250pb ex-cellar in Stellenbosch
• Stellenbosch Vineyards Bushvine 2015 – R90pb ex-cellar
• Windmeul Reserve 2015 – R120pb ex-cellar in Paarl
For all of the top Pinotage reviews over the past two years and details of the ratings, see here