2008 Zarafa Pinotage

2008 Zarafa PinotagePrice: $3.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Mt. Global LLC

What They Said:

hmmm, not much of an authorative description to be found. I emailed the importer and will update it I hear back… For now let me reference what Wikipedia has to say about Pinotage which is the following: “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 Cinsaut. It typically produces deep red varietal wines with smoky, bramble and earthy flavors, sometimes with notes of bananas and tropical fruit, but has been criticized for sometimes smelling of acetone.”

What I Think:

On the nose you initially get light tannin followed by sour notes before everything goes dark. A bit of Jekyll and Hyde. On the palate I find dark fruit, tobacco, but most of all smoky. The smokiness remains with me throughout this entire wine experience; literally from beginning to end. A nice dry finish is also part of the equation.

When drinking Pinotage it is difficult to articulate what you are experiencing.  This would typically reflect the fact that you are drinking a unique offering.  The majority of the time this alone would be enought for me to recommend for all to give it a try. Here I see a trap. It would be better for me to recommend something that truly reflects this varietal than something that may turn you off to it forever. That said; let me explain my approach to new varietals at TJ’s. I give them a whirl, if I remotely like them I try to find a bottle between the $10-$20 price point that I can use as a baseline and move from there. That allows me two things. 1) I get a better idea of what the varietal is really about (as much as you can via two bottles) and 2) can compare quality versus cost on that spectrum.

With that in mind, if you grab this one make sure you grab a more expensive sidekick as well; perhpas this Warwick Estate. As for the Zarafa it should be a piece of the overall equation. Which Pinotage would you pair up with it?

Rating: 12th Bottle

btw, just noticed this is my first 2008!

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8 thoughts on “2008 Zarafa Pinotage

  1. Hi

    Zarafa is a importers label for the USA. The wine is made by Mountain River Wines — see http://www.mountainriverwines.co.za/ — there is a PDF about the Pinotage you have.

    In many ways Pinotage shares with its parent Pinot Noir the sad fact that while you can get a drinkable wine at low cost, for the most pleasure and expression of the variety you need to pay a little more.

    Your suggestion of Warwick is a good one. I reviewed the 2005 Warwick here http://pinotageclub.blogspot.com/2008/11/three-ws-warwick-welmoed-wolf.html


  2. I tried this, if it is the one that lists plum on the label (I think it is) It is very different, very fruity, and a good party wine I think because it is interesting enough not to be grape juice wine, but simple enough for the un-initiated to enjoy it… And cheap! This will be a garden party selection for us this summer

  3. @Guajo Interesting take, I remember this one as smoky… As for 12th bottle here is my description from the rating system.

    12th Bottle

    * These are bottles that I don’t really intend to buy again but still have a chance to find their way home. This is generally happens when I am sitting there with 8 or 9 bottles and need to round out the case. They are certainly worth trying again as I thought I saw some potential, via a different food pairing or something of the sort, and want to give it another try.

  4. YUCK! What a revolting wine. I just took my first taste literally 2 minutes ago and it reminded me of the smell of burnt plastic. Avoid this wine.

  5. This Pinotage is inconsistent but very nice for the price when you get a good bottle.

    My first few bottles were very full-bodied, similar to a “jammy” zinfandel. Then two terrible, skunky bottles turned me off for awhile.

    TJ’s ran out of stock, but now has it back. This time, it tastes more like an inexpensive fruit-forward pinot noir.

  6. I agree completely with TJ – manifestly inconsistent. The first bottle purchased a few days ago was quite pleasurable, especially considering the $4.36 price with tax. The second bottle is on the nasty side and I would return it except for the fact that I don’t wish to drive to the store. I will give it one last try.

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