Showcasing the versatility of Pinotage at L’Avenir

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AS a Stellenbosch Pinotage specialist, showcasing the versatility of South Africa’s very own wine grape variety has been a driving inspiration at L’Avenir Wine Estate.

The introduction of the L’Avenir MCC Pinotage Brut Rosé is part of winemaker Dirk Coetzee’s drive to show the versatility of Pinotage and completes the range of Pinotages, which includes pioneering Provence inspired Glenrosé, the unwooded Horizon Pinotage, the classic Provenance Pinotage and the Estate flagship, The L’Avenir Single Block Pinotage.

“The current generation of Pinotage producers has the benefit of a better understanding of the varietal, taking into account that there have only been 60-odd Pinotage vintages. We are now in a position to really specialise, and showcasing the versatility of Pinotage is one of my greatest passions. The general impression is that Pinotage produces full-bodied and bold wines, while many are now realising it can also produce beautiful lighter styles, with outstanding fragrance, delicacy and fruit purity,” explains Coetzee.

Situated on the lower slopes of the Simonsberg, L’Avenir gained Pinotage prominence in the early ’90s when the legendary Pope of Pinotage, Francois Naudé, specifically showed that L’Avenir’s terroir is suited to the production of premium Pinotage. It was also under Naudé’s mentorship that Coetzee – who was appointed as winemaker in 2008 – gained a deeper appreciation for the variety.

“L’Avenir’s Pinotage is mostly planted on a geographic vein of weathered shale, also known as Glenrosa, which results in wines with remarkable fruit intensity and ageing potential. Our team strives to reflect this distinctive site in our wines,” notes Coetzee.

The Glenrosé – a Provence-style rosé produced from Pinotage – is specifically made from a vineyard with the Glenrosa soil type. The first vintage was produced in 2015, after Coetzee visited Château Gassier in Provence. “At the time, the high-end rosé category in South Africa simply did not exist – not to mention high-end Pinotage rosé!” he quips.

Like the Glenrosé, the L’Avenir MCC Pinotage Brut Rosé 2018 shows delicate notes of grapefruit pith and pomegranate, as well as hints of brioche and ginger biscuits from 18 months’ lees ageing.

L’Avenir’s Single Block Pinotage is the estate’s epitome of site-specific Pinotage and is produced from the highest vineyard on the Estate. The combination of the cooling effect of persistent coastal winds during the ripening season and the Glenrosa soil, results in a complex wine that is both lively and vibrant while remaining dry and understated, with notes of dried blackberries, plums, ripe cherries and fragrant, floral aromas.

L’Avenir – which means “The Future” in French – has spearheaded a series of tastings and discussions about the future of Pinotage. It started at Cape Wine 2018 when Coetzee led a discussion at L’Avenir for a group of international trade and media, with a group of dynamic, next generation Pinotage producers. Subsequently, several similar tastings have been presented across the globe.

“We are standing on the shoulders of giants – the pioneers of Pinotage. It’s now our opportunity to honour them by taking the variety to the next level, through Pinotage expertise and specialisation. I believe that site specific Pinotages will play a fundamental role in the future of the variety and this has been the crux of these tastings,” explains Coetzee.

L’Avenir will reach the milestone of producing its 30th vintage next year. One of the key attributes of the variety is its extraordinary aging potential. “A wine variety can only be viewed as noble if it can age. We can now show how our Pinotage can age over three decades and it absolutely excels in this regard,” confirms Coetzee.

A track record spanning over three decades underscores L’Avenir’s leadership and heritage with Pinotage. The focus and specialisation on the variety remains firmly intact and is now being supported with a diverse range of styles produced from Pinotage. “We are definitely encouraged by renewed interest in Pinotage, which is most certainly also reflected in an increase in demand for high-end Pinotage. Authenticity is becoming increasingly important in the wine industry and Pinotage has that in abundance. A new wave of styles and specialisation has resulted in a more dynamic and exciting category,” concludes Coetzee.

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