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August 9, 2013 Wine Pick of the Week

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Loma Prieta Pinotage bottle Picmonkey

2010 Pinotage


 Loma Prieta Winery

Appellation: Lodi

Alcohol: 15%

Suggested Retail: $45


“This wine is made from a grape unknown to most consumers in the United States. Pinotage, sometimes called “the workhorse grape of South Africa,” is a cross between the more familiar Pinot Noir and Cinsault, a variety native to the Rhone growing region in France. We have tasted some South African Pinotage that we liked, but none as much as this example from Loma Prieta. It's possible that just as Malbec, a grape native to the southwest of France, finds a higher expression when grown in Argentina, South Africa's signature grape also does better elsewhere.

“Loma Prieta is a boutique winery located at the 2300-foot level in the Santa Cruz Mountains and, though they do have a small plot of Pinotage growing on the estate, our Pick of the Week was sourced from Pinotage grapes grown in the Amorosa Vineyard in Lodi. Loma Prieta proprietor Paul Kemp tells us that as far as he knows there is only about 20 acres of Pinotage growing in all of the U.S. and that his winery is the largest producer of this variety in North America.

“Paul is justifiably proud of his 2010 Pinotage, which has been awarded a platinum medal, as well as 10 gold medals. We found it powerful, yet soft and very drinkable for a wine this young. Though the label says 15%, it didn't show any of the unfortunate heat often associated with wines at this alcohol level. While not exhibiting flavors radically different from red wines made from more familiar varieties, it isn't quite like any of them, either. It's less reminiscent of red Burgundy or Pinot Noir than wines from the southern Rhone, we feel. There's plenty of berry fruit here, some coffee notes and just a bit of spice. It's a damn fine red wine and wouldn't seem out of its league if poured at a dinner where more expensive California reds were being served.”

Food Affinity: “The winery suggests 'fatty meats, like lamb or ribeye steak.' We can't disagree with those choices, but we served it with stuffed red bell peppers and thought it a delightful pairing.”

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