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pinotage

Why you’ll love Pinotage! From our grower Grettchen van der Merwe

Why Pinotage rather than other red wines?

Because it is different. Because it is uniquely South African. And because it allows you to strike a blow against the tyranny of the conventional.

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The popularity of this variety unique to South Africa has steadily been growing in the US. The 2020 harvest is well underway and the Pinotage destined for US cellars is on its way. After careful vineyard selection the grapes that are deemed worthy are immediately cooled and packed by our friendly pack house ladies.

The attitude of reverence that many people have towards wine is perhaps best illustrated with the above quote. There are surely many reasons for drinking wine and as far as Pinotage is concerned it has many things going for it. For one, and most importantly it is enjoyable. Another is that is it red – somebody once said that the first duty of wine is to be red.

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Yeast choice should be primarily based on alcohol and cold tolerance and secondarily on aroma production. Aeration during yeast rehydration is recommended for high risk fermentations (e.g. high sugar concentrations, potential nutrient imbalances and low temperatures). An enhanced estery character, suitable for wines that will be marketed earlier, will develop at fermentation temperatures of 22 – 24ºC. A less estery character, for full-bodied wines that will be marketed later, following wood maturation, is possible at temperatures of 24 – 28ºC. Fermentation at 28 – 32ºC is only recommended for full-bodied wines. Frequent mixing of skins and must by pump-overs or punch-downs is important. Skin cap temperatures exceeding 32ºC could potentially cause stuck or sluggish fermentations, or even bacterial spoilage.

Frequent pump-overs or punch-downs during the early stages of fermentation will give less tannins as well as softer tannins. Concentrated aeration during the last phase of fermentation produces a softer tannin structure. Skin contact towards the end of fermentation or after fermentation depends on the required wine style, but pressing is usually done before completion of fermentation (2 to 8º Balling). Extended maceration is only recommended for wines made from healthy grapes harvested at optimum ripeness and that are destined for further maturation. Sensory evaluation on a daily basis is necessary.

By Grettchen van der Merwe

  • To read more about the South African Wine Harvest click HERE.
  • For more information about Grettchen and her winemaking click HERE.
  • For more information about making Pinotage wine click HERE.

Questions? Or would like to make an order?

Call us at 877-812-1137 or email us at sales@juicegrape.com!

 

South African Harvest Update

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While the Chilean grapes ripen and start to harvest, our South African grapes and juices are boarding boats. South Africa grows most of their wine grapes on the west coast. There is a cold current called the Benguela that flows up from the Antarctic cooling down the coastal regions; making it perfect for growing high quality wine grapes. Between the coastal cool breezes, altitudes, and fertile soils the vineyards thrive. Altitudes have a lot to do with the vineyard climate. The altitude differentiation creates micro climates throughout the Western Cape with different and interesting soil components. Stellenbosch (where we source some of our grapes) is South Africa’s hub for premier wine production. The climate is moderate and produces some of the world’s best Cabernet Sauvignon. The Breed River Valley is another region we source from that is a hot and dry climate with fertile soils. The Breede River Valley produces much of South Africa’s wine production, with many micro climates making up this viticulture area.

Cabernet Sauvignon is South Africa’s second most planted variety, right after Chenin Blanc, which is the most planted grape in South Africa. Cabernet Sauvignon from this region of the world is full bodied, notes of black fruit, and chewy tannins. Syrah from South Africa can be created in two different ways. Some winemakers create a full bodied, rich, high in alcohol, and ripe black fruit flavor. Other winemakers create a peppery Syrah that is more medium bodied. These winemaking styles depend on your maceration time and yeast you utilized. Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, creates an interesting red wine. It can be made in a range of styles. Some winemakers make it in a Beaujolais style, others make it in more of a Burgundian style, and more and more winemakers are making it in a fruit forward style. You have lots of room to put your own creative spin on Pinotage!

This season we will have Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinotage, and Barbera grapes available. In juice format we will have Shiraz, Merlot, Pinotage, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

There are many white wines from South Africa that are fun to make. Chenin Blanc is the white wine of South Africa and it creates a fresh, zesty, wine with notes of stone fruit. Sauvignon Blanc is another popular wine that is widely grown. South African Sauvignon Blanc is full of green citrus notes with crisp acidity.

This season we will have Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon, Chenin Blanc, and Pinot Grigio juices from South Africa.

Arrival Estimates:

The Pinotage is harvesting in Mid-February, the Barbera, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon will be harvested a few weeks later. The grapes and juices from South Africa should start arriving in mid-March.

Grapes Available from South Africa:

Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Barbera

Juices Available from South Africa:

Shiraz, Merlot, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Semillon, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Chenin Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc.

For more information on making wine from South Africa check out these blogs posts:

For more information or if you would like to make a purchase please call us at 877-812-1137 or email sales@juicegrape.com

Wine Spotlight: South African Pinotage

Pinotage wines are on the rise throughout the world.

Wine drinkers enjoy it because Pinotage is complex, yet light in body. Winemakers love working with the grapes because fermentations are for the most part simple and smell amazing. “Strawberry cotton candy” are descriptors we’ve heard in the past. Yet, despite it’s wonderful characteristics, it is still a wine that is relatively unknown and under rated.

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The Pinotage Grape was created in 1925 and is a cross between two vinifera grapes, Pinot Noir and Cinsault. Abaraham Izak Perold created the grape to bring out the brilliant robust flavors that both Pinot Noir and Cinsault possessed, while making the grape easy to grow.

Pinotage is known to produce smoky, earthy flavors with hints of tropical fruits. We (MWG) source our Pinotage from the Breede River Valley.  This is because the Breede River Valley produces wines that express notes of cedar, plums, and dark berry notes. The wine then rounds out with a smooth, tannic structure. Lots of complex and flavorful wines come out of this valley and now you can make your very own at home!

Quick Winemaking Tips:

  • Please note that if you punch through too vigorously during fermentation you can get an almost burned plastic characteristic. It is better to ferment Pinotage at lower temperatures.
  •  The yeasts we recommend utilizing are D254, D80, and BDX
  • Our Winemaker Bootcampers have made this serval times. If you ever have any fermentation questions please do not hesitate to reach out.
  • Check out our blog post about making Syrah from South Africa too!
  •  Click here for information about our Grower from South Africa.
  • Food Pairing: Enjoy these wines with a hearty stew or red meat.

Interested in making your own wine? Give us a call at 877-812-1137 to get started!

Winemaker Spotlight: Grettchen van der Merwe of our South African Vineyards

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How did you get started winemaking? What first attracted you to winemaking?

I grew up in the Cape Winelands and studied Viticulture and Oenology at Stellenbosch University. I love the process of winemaking, the chemistry of it. Wine is a living thing and it is wonderful to be able to make something with the potential to be enjoyed for years to come as it grows and matures in the bottle.

What do you look for when you make wine? What is your general winemaking philosophy?

It is all about the grapes, get the best grapes possible and make sure you have the basics right, but don’t try to over engineer the process.

What is the most difficult aspect of making wine? What’s or biggest challenge as a winemaker

You are working with nature so you cannot predict what’s to come in a season and every season has its own challenges. I think the most difficult are seasons where the vines are stressed, be it from high temperatures or wet weather that can increase risk of fungal infections in the vineyard.

Are you filtering your wines?

There is a movement toward unfiltered wines, especially as consumers become more educated and willing to accept a little sediment in the bottle. I do prefer to filter my wine, but use the most coarse (largest micron size) filter available. Basically just to give the wine a rough polish as it goes into the bottle.

Are there any new winemaking techniques or tools you’d like to experiment with?

They aren’t necessarily new tools, but you can achieve a lot with good use of enzymes and tannins at vinification. I like to cold soak my grapes before fermentation; you get the benefit of good color and flavor development without the harsh tannic extraction that happens after fermentation (when alcohol is present).

What’s your favorite wine region?

Many different regions excel at specific varietals, which is part of what makes wine exciting, you can have a Syrah from South Africa; Australia and France and all three can be fantastic but also completely different in style.

We want to give a BIG Thank you to Grettchen for answering our winemaker questions and we look forward to meeting her in person on April 2nd. We would like to invite all of our winemakers to meet her Monday April 2nd from 1:00-6:00PM at our Hartford, CT Location. Grettchen will be speaking about her vineyards and favorite winemaking practices. RSVP to Christina at cmusto@juicegrape.com. This event is FREE to join and we would love you bring in some wines that you have made for Grettchen to try. Looking forward to seeing you all on April 2nd!

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 10 – Making Wine from Pinotage Grapes

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What’s the Winemaker’s Think Tank?

Every Thursday we will post about a few frequently asked questions that our winemaker has answered. If you have a winemaking question you would like to have answered, please email us at support@juicegrape.com and we will try to get into next week’s post. Cheers! 🙂

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We all know that feeling. You made it through the holidays, your wines are resting peacefully in your cellar, but there’s something missing. You’re getting that “itch.” You go down to your cellar and see that a few of your barrels are empty, and that French oak barrel shouldn’t be empty too long . . . so you start Googling and then you find that there is a spring wine season! Your prayers are answered! You can scratch that winemaking itch and get moving on your next vintage. Believe me, your French oak barrel will thank you.

Not all winemakers know this but Musto Wine Grape brings in wine grapes and juices from South America and South Africa in the springtime. Specifically Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa, Malbec from Argentina, and Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot, Malbec, Petite Verdot, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and Viognier from Chile.

Making wine from these grapes and juices is very different than the California grapes and juices. The grapes have a much longer ride and the regions where the grapes are grown give off very different characteristics. Argentinean and Chilean grapes tend to have a lot of fruit-forward notes, dark berry flavors, with cigar and earthy undertones; as opposed to the South African grapes that have a brighter fruit profile such as cranberry and raspberry.

In the spring of 2016 we decided to make a Pinotage. Neither of us had ever made one before and we were excited to try out a new wine grape variety and region. Pinotage is a red wine grape that is South Africa’s signature variety. It was bred there in 1925 as a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault (also known as Hermitage) – thus the name Pinotage. It is the second most planted grape in South Africa.

As a winemaker it was very exciting to get a chance to make wine from South Africa. It was also exciting to make a wine we have never made before. The grapes came in 20 lb. (9 kg) cases and were simply immaculate. The berries were in very good condition with no mold or decay. The one thing we did notice about the grapes is the skins were different in texture. They chewed for a long time and can almost be described as leathery. We have never seen that on a California or South American grape before.

The initial numbers on the grapes were workable. The Brix came in at 25, which would result in an alcohol of 13.75%. There was no adjustment needed on the sugar level. The pH and titratable acidity (TA) came in at 3.91 and 6.2gm/L respectfully. Tartaric acid was added to get the pH to a desired level. One thing we have learned is every grape is different – they cannot be handled by mathematical formulas only. Always bench test your adjustments; the results are not always linear. Our goal is to get the pH AND the TA to the ideal levels. This is not always possible, but an experienced winemaker will have to make the best decisions.

After adding tartaric acid, we ended up with a pH of 3.5, which is an ideal number. The TA only rose to 7.5 gm/L. As we stated above these grapes did not show the linear relationship between the pH and TA – meaning it is not always true what the pH goes down, the TA goes up.

So these were good starting numbers to release the grapes for fermentation. Something Frank and I swear by is always making your adjustments before fermentation. Once fermentation starts it is a moving target. And once the wine has completed fermentation, you really should not be making major pH/TA adjustments. We went with D254 yeast, simply because it always does a good job and we have never made these grapes before. Next year we think we might try the BDX yeast.

We processed these grapes with the same protocol as a California vinifera. We cold soaked the grapes 3–4 days. Cold soaking not only gives you time to work on the wine before fermentation, but allows the wine to “bleed out” and stabilize. The skins break down and you get the tannins and color to stay with the must. While the grapes were in a cold soak we made the Brix, pH, and TA adjustments. We also added normal additives such as tannins, Opti-red, oak powder, etc.

The fermentation went well. A normal 3–4 punch downs a day is a good protocol. We checked the temperature every morning and evening. It ran from 70–80 °F (21–27 °C) the entire fermentation, a good temperature for reds.

The pressing went well. The skins were still like little pieces of leather – we will never forget that about Pinotage. The fresh pressed juice had a cotton candy nose to it, which we found unusual but pleasing. It has faded off to a bright red berry nose as time has gone on.

Once the wine was racked 2–3 times, it was moved to a Hungarian barrel for 8 months. It is now back in the tank for final adjustments before bottling. The final numbers are all good. The pH is 3.52, the TA is 0.62 and the alcohol level is 14%.

Tasting Notes:
The nose has red berries such as raspberry and cranberry. It is a clean nose with a “fruity” character.

The palate had red licorice and tobacco, and reminds me of a Pinot Noir. The tannin level is medium, which we find perfect for this wine. Big tannins would have overtaken this particular lot of Pinotage. It is an easy drinking wine. It has a sweet fruity presence, yet there is no residual sugar. This will make a good red for the summer for those red drinkers who refuse to go to whites at that time.

So there it is. We made our first South African wine from grapes. It was exciting and a learning experience for both of us. Each season we will try to process them differently to create other sides of this wonderful wine — Pinotage!

You have many winemaking options during the spring winemaking season. Don’t let a unique winemaking opportunity pass you by! If you have any questions about the spring wine season feel free to email me at cmusto@juicegrape.com.

Article by Christina Musto & Frank Renaldi for Winemaker Magazine.  You can see the entire article by clicking HERE.

We hope this information helps with your winemaking. If you have any follow up questions or winemaking questions in general, please email us at support@juicegrape.com.

News from the field as of 3/3/2017…..

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News from the field…

South African Pinotage: Harvested and in transit. The Pinotage should hit the port around March 28th.

South African Cabernet: Harvest is about 10 days out. It will most likely arrive sometime in mid-April.

Argentina Malbec: Also about 10 days out as of right now. We think the grapes should arrive sometime in mid to late April.

Chilean grapes: White grapes will start to harvest next week. The white grapes should arrive around last week in April and reds grapes should arrive around the first or second week in May.

Southern Hemisphere Juices: Arriving mid to late April.

 

The prices for the Spring products are here and we are taking Pre-Orders via email and over the phone. Please feel free to contact us at sales@juicegrape.com or 877.812.1137 to place your pre-order.

We are looking forward to working with you this Spring Harvest! Keep an eye on our Facebook Page and Harvest Tracker for more harvest information and upcoming wine classes.

2017 South Africa Harvest

Spring season is almost upon us and we have some great news.  This year we will not only be offering Pinotage from South Africa, but…

Wait for it…

Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa too!!

Also, we have additional higher-end regions where we will be sourcing our South African grapes.  In addition to the Breede River Valley we will also offer grapes from Stellenbosch, Olifantsriver, and the Cederberg Mountains.

Beautiful vineyard landscape, panoramic view on a great vine valley, autumn season, wine industry in South Africa

Stellenbosch:

Location: Western Cape, 31 miles East of Cape Town

Grapes Being Sourced: Cabernet Sauvignon

Grower Information: A meticulous vineyard manager, this Cabernet has intense fruit flavors.  The grapes create full, rich, complex wines that age well.

Geeky Facts:  “Wines from these locations are often described as having a subtle mineral note which many believe is from the decomposed granite soils. The granite mountains are approximately 600 million years old, over 3 times as old as the soil in Napa where many of the Cabernet Sauvignon vines are grown.” (via Wine Folly)

 

Olifants River:

Location:  One of the Northernmost wine regions in South Africa’s Western Cape. It spans 90 miles between Lutzville in the North and Citrusdal Valley in the South.

Grapes Being Sourced: Cabernet Sauvignon

Grower Information:  The grapes thrive in the hot, dry mesoclimates and are tempered by cool ocean breezes at night and good cold units during winter. These growing conditions make the perfect recipe for good quality Cabernet Sauvignon.  Also, you will find pockets of very old, almost ancient vines in this area. Vines were first planted in this area in the 1700’s

Geeky Facts:  The Olifants River is named for the elephants that roamed the region in the 18th Century. (via Wine Searcher)

 

Cederberg Mountains:

Location:  186 miles North of Capetown. The Cederberg mountains contain a nature reserve. The mountain range is named after the endangered Clanwilliam cedar, which is a tree endemic to the area.

Grapes Being Sourced: Pinotage

Grower Information:  These Pinotage grapes are from older vines and are cultivated at the highest altitude in South Africa. You can expect intense flavors with high levels of complexity. These grapes produce excellent Pinotage and can be compared to Napa and Sonoma in terms of quality.

Geeky Facts:  The mountains are noted for dramatic rock formations and San rock.

Grapes in South Arican Wineyard 2015

The Pinotage grapes should be arriving towards the end of March and the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes should arrive at the end of April.  We are expecting more information about crop estimates, clones, yeast pairings, photos, and more. So stay tuned for more updates! Cheers!

 

 

Official Pinotage Numbers Are Here

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Official Pinotage Numbers Are Here

Brix = 25  (no adjustment required)

Starting pH = 3.91

Starting TA = .62

Added 1.5gm Tartaric Acid per liter

Final Number are pH = 3.50 & TA = 0.75

​In conclusion, the final numbers are very good!! Looking forward to seeing how this vintage turns out!

#whydoesittakesolong?

2016 Pinotage Arrival

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The ‪Pinotage has arrived!! The berries taste very sweet with good seed and pulp development. We got Brix readings of 23-24.5. We will be calling all of the people who pre-ordered today. However we do still have a small amount available for sale.

Gives us a call at 877.812.1137 to pick up you Pinotage grapes!

Also, we are still deciding which yeast to use for the Pinotage grapes. The three options we thought about are D254, D80, and BDX. Below are the descriptions of each yeast.

(all descriptions via Scott Laboratories)

  • D254: “In red wines, Lalvin ICV D254® develops ripe fruit, jam and cedar aromas together with mild spiciness. On the palate it contributes high fore-mouth volume, big mid-palate mouthfeel and intense fruit concentration.”
  • D80: “Given proper nutrition, Lalvin ICV D80® is a rapid starter with moderate fermentation rates. It has been known to have an alcohol tolerance of up to 16% (v/v) when the fermentation is aerated and the temperature is maintained below 28°C(82°F). On the palate it creates high fore-mouth volume, big mid-palate mouthfeel, an intense, fine-grain tannin sensation and a long lasting licorice finish.”
  • BDX: “Uvaferm BDXTM is a vigorous fermenter. Alcohol toler­ance can be up to 16% (v/v). Optimizes color and structure with soft tannin extrac­tion and increased mouthfeel. Does not generate a lot of heat during fermentation. Selected from the Pasteur Institute strain collection in Paris, France.”

Which yeast do you think we should use?

Cheers! 🍇🍷

Yeast Pairings for Pinotage from South Africa

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Yeast Pairings for Grapes from South Africa:

Pinotage: D254, D80, and BDX