We tasted: Houdamond Pinotage, £13, M&S
Emma says: I entered this week’s grape tasting with a determination to keep an open mind. Often people ask me what my favourite grape or wine is, few ask if there is a grape that I really can’t stand. I’m afraid to say that previous experience has told me that Pinotage is the only one. However the lovely people I work with who (some feel the same way) have told me that Houdamond Pinotage will be the wine to convert me. So here we go…
The reason I’m not a great fan of this wine is likely to be that I’m super sensitive to an aroma and flavour that is quite often found in South African wines. Some call it burnt rubber but I find it a bit of a dungy stink and ashy taste. If you don’t detect the same in your tasting then feel lucky, each of us have differing sensory perceptions and can be sensitive to certain things. It seems I’m particularly alert to these characters.
Onto the wine in question. The first aroma was a dark, brooding prune with a molasses richness which was quite attractive, it was followed by a bit of boot polish which I don’t mind and then that very distinct earthy dung note, but not too bad. So a good start. To taste it was nicely supple, with fluid tannins and a blueberry , plum flavour with that caramel sweetness and a strong coffee note. But then after about a second or two I felt that earthy, burnt rubber and bitter character, plus a raw alcohol burn start to emerge and that was it for me. I struggled to finish the glass which Andy can attest is a very rare thing.
Sorry South Africa since I know this is your trademark grape. I hope Andy feels differently.”
Andy says: “I didn’t have too much time to taste this wine as I was busy fighting with a blocked dishwasher drain. It won, but there will be a return battle tonight, when I will be armed with a drain snake.
I actually don’t mind it and don’t detect the rubber that Emma does. The first thing I did say was that there was quite a rough alcohol burn. To describe that further, it’s that harsh feeling you can get from a really cheap whiskey, compared to a more expensive one which will be smoother.
Taste wise, I’m still not getting all those fruits, but I did find it quite pleasant, almost blackcurrant-y, and quite easy to drink.”
Pinotage is the red grape that has come to define South Africa. Its parents are a crossing between Pinot Noir and Cinsault but it really tastes nothing like either of those grapes. The search this week should be quite easy since most big shops stock a Pinotage if they have South African wines.