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It's been quite a month for Painted Wolf Wines. Painted Wolf Wines were recently awarded Gold medal for Painted Wolf Penny Viognier 2014 at The 2015 Veritas competition, winemaker Jeremy has been nominated for Diners Club Winemaker of the Year for Guillermo Pinotage 2012, and this week Jeremy has been awarded Cheetah Award by Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) for his contribution towards advancing the EWT’s conservation efforts in South Africa. We caught up with the top dog himself to talk all things Pinotage.
NSW: Well done with your recent awards and nomination for Diners Club Winemaker of the Year - we're crossing all our paws for you! So, on to South Africa's signature red grape, Pinotage - a grape you craft so well, what do you think is so unique about the grape?
JB: Pinotage is our most defining grape - its a grape with personality
NSW: How do you think the flavour profile of the grape has changed over the years and how has Pinotage winemaking changed?
JB: Pinotage is a somewhat tricky grape, perhaps similar to Zinfandel in the US. In years gone by it was a curiosity and work horse with little premium attached to the variety, and as a result was often given less attention in the cellar. South Africa did have its iconic pinotage producer Kanonkop who were making magnificent pinotage when all around were inspiring comments normally reserved for an old bangers drag race. Zinfandel had a similar fate in California with the few stand our producers such as Ridge is a sea of poorly thought through, badly made wines. How things have changed in California…and here. South Africans love a challenge. Pinotage was the a pariah. There is nothing more exciting than success with the underdog....no wonder we love both Pinotage and African Wild dogs.
NSW: You’ve won countless awards, none more so than for your Pinotages’ – what is your secret for making great Pinotage?
JB: My winemaking is very simple, good grapes, attention to detail during fermentation- and my best attempt to read the vintage so as to make the correct decision about wood, what type and how long. However my philosophy about the grape taps into its parentage. I see Pinotage as the plucky lovechild of a noble Burgundian father and a simple country girl from the south. The spirit of Pinotage has been moulded in the dramatic landscape of the cape with its howling South easterly wines and bright harsh African sun. It was an awkward youth with an attitude problem and lots of detractor, which in the process of growing up into a fine mature being with a big heart and generous spirit. Pinotage is far closer to a Rhone varietal, and a good one and should be thought of in this context.
NSW: Which is your favourite Pinotage based wine in your portfolio and why?
JB: Guillermo is my favourite. It is really about one thing…our partner Guillermo ( Billy ) Hughes and his philosophy about grapes and viticulture. He has set out to be the best farmer in the Swartland, with the greatest attention to detail in the vineyard. He is passionate about vineyard being in harmony with nature, and has developed his vineyard is one of the only organically certified vineyards in the Swartland.
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