Podcast 92 – A New View of Pinotage

Jennifer Molgat’s appearances at tastings and in the promotional short films for her winery, The View, have made her the most publicly visible face of her winery. The seemingly heavy focus solely on the marketing aspect of the winery makes it seem that the concept was born in a corporate focus group rather than as an organic idea based on a rich local history. But in fact, that’s exactly where it comes from. Molgat’s great-grandfather built the packing house that now serves as her winery.

It was a very feminine-oriented marketing plan, which placed The View in a small group of wineries in BC at the time. A woman with whom I worked bought a bottle for no other reason other than because it had a red shoe on it. She was all excited about it for weeks and then told me later, after she had consumed said bottle, that she hadn’t liked the wine very much. Strike one for me against buying a bottle.

Strike two came sometime later when the store where I worked received a shipment of their wines. Pinotage. At that time, that was enough to count it out completely for me. I was not a fan of Pinotage for a few reasons, one being that a wine teacher of mine had described it thus: “It’s a cross between Pinto Noir and Cinsault, and retains none of the good characters of either.” Normally never one to let my teachers get in the way of my education, it unfortunately reinforced a tasting I’d attended 6 years previous to that where South Africa was the theme country and there was Pinotage a-plenty. It was early on in my wine tasting experience and I knew that Pinotage was South Africa’s “It” grape but I just could not find a single version of it that I liked enough even to say, “It’s ok.” To me at that time, it was like the wines had been made by having a wet grizzly bear stomp on the grapes.

It is with this history that I approached the newly arrived bottle of Pinotage from The View in front of me that day. So I sniffed, I tasted, sniffed again, tasted again, and then something weird happened. This wine would not leave me. It was immediately approachable, had a flavour that drew me in, and had this long, smokey finish that would not let me forget it.

I have tasted that wine more than a few times since then and it has remained just as seductive ever since. It has changed a little – the flavours have blended a little more and the fruit and tannins are less aggressive – but it’s still got that something special that I now look for in a Pinotage. Check it out if you can find it.

This podcast was recorded in the barrel cellar at The View winery and there is a little of that unexpected ‘winery ambiance’. I consider it a great addition to the soundscape. Cheers!