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This will be a collection of odds and sods from my previous posts and some stuff that I would like to say but does not merit a full post.

I also hope before Xmas to produce a list of the styles of wine which you could try for various dishes at Xmas or N’erday. I will not recommend any particular wine, a brand, a supermarket or a target price. That is your part of the bargain and it is the fun part to see what bought for yourself; if it matches up to your taste and matches the food you are eating. I hope to rope in Mrs Panda to give a few recipés, mostly learned on her Mother’s knee. 

So, to work!

Drew1314 asked me about Pinot and Pinotage from South Africa. I covered Pinot earlier but made no mention of Pinotage.

PINOTAGE

The Pinotage grape is peculiar to South Africa but have escaped a bit into California and been planted in some experimental plots in Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Germany. I have heard nothing about these experimental plots and so I assume that they were not a success.

Pinotage is a very, very unusual grape in that it is a direct cross between the Pinot grape and the Cinsault grape. I say cross because it was biologically mixed, using standard botanical techniques and is not a hybrid grape, as most grapes in production are. I will talk a bit about that later.

In 1925 a Professor of Viticulture in Stellenbosch was trying to cross a grape that would work in South Africa. He wanted the quality of the Pinot but not the difficulty associated with making a good wine from it. He wanted something of quality, easy to grow, and suitable for the local climate. He crossed it with the Cinsault which was known in South Africa as Hermitage to produce Pinotage.

Professor Perold planted four hybrids in his private garden on the University estate and three years later took a job elsewhere, leaving the vines. Some years later the garden was being cleared, they came upon the vines and luckily someone decided to save them.

The person who saved them contacted his old boss, and showed him the four plants.  They were grafted onto Phyloxera resistant rootstock and one of these was taken for field and wine making trials.

Wine made from Pinotage was not a big success in South Africa as the growers were all using European grape varieties but in the early sixties a Pinotage wine gained a local prize. The grape was not mentioned on the label but this was the era of Apartheid and sanctions were coming to South Africa. Stellenbosch is in one of the Boer heartlands and the South Africans retreated into their “laagar” or defiant siege mentality. They could survive without the outside world and thus Pinotage became the grape of South Africa; one that would show the World.

Unfortunately, although the grape was very easy to grown and yielded a lot of wine per hectare, it was very capricious. Unless carefully nurtured, the wines tended to stink of isoamyl acetate (paint thinner so, maybe a marketing opportunity here for a Newsnet reader in Coatbridge?) and some were described as resembling rusty nails. The producers had gone for quantity and not quality.

Pinotage is still grown but is mainly blended into table wines.

it is not one of my favourite and in fact I have never tasted a good Pinotage. There must be some.

 

PHYLLOXERA

Grape phylloxera (Daktulosphaera vitifoliae ) is an insect pest of grape vines. It is, or was native to the Eastern United States.

The insect, sometime called an aphid or louse, attacks the leaves and roots and effectively kills the vine.

The insect was imported, unknowingly, by Victorian plant collectors who brought over from North America, local grape vines. These grape vines are different from the European one; they are Vitis vinifera  and not Vitis berlandieri or aestevalis or any other native American species. These native North American grapes make wine that is undrinkable, with overpowering aromas described as foxy and worse. The grape must is often mucous and impossible to process into wine.

The phylloxera insect soon spread all over Europe form it English home from home and devasted the European wine industry.

It was found that some of these N Amercan vines were resistant to the insect so a lot of effort was place on making crosses of these two grape species.  However, the foxy character persisted. Eventually someone had the bright idea to graft the vinifera vine onto the native American rootstock and that worked.

So today all grape vines are European but grafted onto N American rootstock, except in Chile which is phylloxera free. Perhaps the crossing of the Andes from Argentina is just too arduous for the wee beastie.