Celebrating a century of Pinotage: sommelier Bafana Zondo shares his top picks

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South Africa’s history with Pinotage stretches back a century. The story begins in 1924, not 1925 as many believe, according to the wine guru Emile Joubert. It was then that Professor Abraham Izak Perold, the first viticulture professor at Stellenbosch University, crossed Pinot Noir with Cinsault (then known as Hermitage). This pioneering act birthed Pinotage, a grape variety that would become South Africa’s national wine.   

With 2024 marking Pinotage’s centenary, we couldn’t resist celebrating! We’ve enlisted the expertise of Bafana Zondo, the 2023 Eat Out Woolworths Wine Service Award winner and sommelier at the acclaimed Eat Out three-star restaurant, Dusk, in Stellenbosch. Bafana shares his top Pinotage picks for every season.   


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A post shared by Bafana Zondo (@bafana_zondo)

For warmer weather I look for a modernstyle Pinotage that has more purity of fruit, a light style with aromas of strawberry, raspberry, cherry notes like the ones recommended below.  

My favourite Pinotage for warmer weather like outdoor gatherings and picnics: Orpheus and The Raven No.7 Pinotage 2018 


For hot summer days: Ashbourne Pinotage 2016  

For celebratory occasions: Beeslaar Pinotage 2015 

For braais and grilled food: Scions of Sinai
Féniks Pinotage 2018 

I recommend Pinotage to be consumed at 13
20°C to get the best of its aromas.  

A perfumed beautiful banana, blueberry and tropical fruit Pinotage with medium body is always one to die for during autumn, like the Diemersdal Private Collection Pinotage 2013.

Pairing suggestions for traditional autumn dishes: a slow-braised lamb shank with a full-bodied Pinotage that has more earthy undertones is a match made in heaven.  

red wine

During winter I normally would go for more full-bodied Pinotage in traditional styles, big and bold with a rounded palate and lots of concentrated fruits – think dusty black plums and spicy black cherries with complex notes.  

A favourite Pinotage to accompany hearty winter meals: Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage 2013 


Pinotage for special occasions and holiday gatherings: Kanonkop Kadette Pinotage 2008 

Pinotage for chilly evenings: Simonsig Redhill Pinotage 2013 


If you are interested in exploring the world of South African wine, Pinotage is a great place to start and you’ll never go wrong with the above-mentioned bottles.   

Happy 100 Years to Pinotage! 

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