Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The View raises its Pinotage profile

Photo: The View's Jennifer Molgat

Mellasat Vineyards in South Africa likes to bill itself as the “home of White Pinotage.” Its first vintage of a white wine from South Africa’s iconic red varietal was made in 2007.

The View Vineyards in Kelowna, operated by Jennifer Molgat, might want to call itself the second home of White Pinotage, after being quite successful with two vintages. It is part of what Jennifer calls a Pinotage trifecta: the winery also makes a rosé and a reserve red from the variety.

“We are flying our Pinotage flag high,” Jennifer says.

The winery is on an historic East Kelowna farm that has been in her family for more than a century, primarily as an apple orchard. Chris Turton, her father, began planting grapes in 1994. He added a 3.78-acre block of Pinotage in 1998, which has since been expanded to eight acres. The winery’s vineyard totals 48 acres.

Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, was created in 1925 by Abraham Perold, a professor of viticulture at Stellenbosch University. The first commercial planting was in 1941 and the variety eventually established itself as something of a signature of the South African wine industry.

The variety came to the Okanagan in the early 1990s when Paul Moser, the South African businessman who founded Lake Breeze Vineyards, imported some vines. Lanny Martiniuk, the owner of Stoneboat Vineyards, propagated the vines and then decided to plant his own block. Chris Turton’s decision to plant Pinotage was made independently.

To date, those three producers are believed the only ones making Pinotage in BC. When The View first made Pinotage, the variety usually hid behind a proprietary name because consumers were not familiar with the variety. That has now changed.

“In the decade since we started – we started in 2007 – we have gone from ‘Pinot what, what is that a blend of?’ to ‘I love your Pinotage!’,” Jennifer says. That is why she now puts the varietal proudly on three different wines.

In 2016 The View replaced a five-acre block of Optima with Pinot Noir, a variety that likely will compete with the visibility of Pinotage.

“We are having fun with the Pinotage,” Jennifer says. “I can see as the Pinot Noir matures that our Pinotage program will definitely lean towards the white and the rosé wines. Pinotage makes an incredible rosé. The white has become fairly popular and the red is delicious. It is developing a following, but I can see that it may take a little bit of a back seat to the Pinot Noir.”

Creating The View’s White Pinotage in 2015 was what Jennifer calls “a project” for Mike Anderson, one of the winery’s two winemakers. “The White Pinotage is whole-cluster pressed, with a very gentle press cycle,” Jennifer says. The 2015 vintage was fermented entirely in stainless steel while 16% of the 2016 was fermented in neutral oak; the rest was in stainless steel.

The 2016 Pinotage Rosé is made in a dry but juicy style. “We destemmed the grapes and soaked them on the skins for 18 hours in the press, for just a slight colour extraction,” Jennifer says. The fermentation was cool. The result is a wine so delicious that she says it is “hard to spit” during a tasting.

“We did not have the confidence before to call it a Pinotage Rosé,” she says. “We had other names for it, such as Distraction Rosé and Voulez View Rosé. And then, with the popularity of the White Pinotage, we said we are going to fly the Pinotage flag and call it Pinotage Rosé.”

The winery made its first Pinotage Reserve in 2014 (now sold out) followed by the 2015, the current release. The wine is aged 10 months, primarily in French oak barrels, 40% of which are new. The oak adds a pleasant toasty note to the wine. Soft tannins give the wine a generous texture. However, Jennifer does not recommend cellaring the Reserve more than three to five years.

The winery gets a lot of mileage from its Pinotage grapes in blends as well. Silver Lining Red 2015 ($15.95) is 94% Pinotage with five percent Merlot and one percent Baco Noir. The Silver Lining Rosé, an off-dry $15.95 wine, is 50% Pinotage with Ehrenfelser, Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Baco Noir filling out the blend. Voulez View Rosé is a Pinotage/Riesling blend. Voulez View 2014 Rouge is 85% Pinotage and 15% Merlot. There is even a fortified red called Well Heeled Red which is 90% Pinotage, 10% Merlot.

(The Voulez View label is being retired. Consumers do not always get the pun.)

Here are notes on some current releases from The View.

The View White Pinotage 2016 ($19.95). The wine is crisp and refreshing, with aromas of citrus, spice and herbs leading to flavours of apple and melon. 90.

The View Dry Riesling 2016 ($N/A). This is a zesty, refreshing wine with citrus aromas and flavours. There is a fine spine of minerality. This wine should be cellared for several years to fully achieve its complex potential. 90.

The View Pinot Gris 2016 ($19.95). The wine has aromas and flavours of citrus and pear with some green apple notes and a touch of spice on the finish. 90.

The View Pinotage Rosé 2016 (N/A). Pale rose petal in hue, the wine begins with aromas of cherry and strawberry. On the palate, it has a luscious texture with strawberry flavours and a dry finish. 91.

The View Pinotage Reserve 2015 ($25.95). The wine begins with aromas of cherries mingled with toasty oak and white pepper. On the palate, the cherry flavours are accented with notes of mocha and toasty oak. The tannins are ripe and the texture is generous. 92.



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