Catching Up In London with “Mr Pinotage”, Beyers Truter ~ A South African Wine Trade Legend…

It was great to spend time catching up with Beyers Truter at the London Wine Trade Fair this past week to taste a selection of his wines including his new(ish) Trail Dust Pinotage, Cinsaut and Pinot Noir Blend as well as his full Beyerskloof range. His Bordeaux blends, needless to say, have always been real favourites of mine. But it is of course Pinotage that he is best known for. 

Beyers is the founder and Chairman of the Pinotage Association starting his own practical career actually working with table grapes before starting his winemaking career at the now famous Kanonkop winery. Known as Mr Pinotage, he has been producing Pinotage wines since 1981 and it has always been one of his greatest passions, or even obsessions. 

Today he is the cellarmaster and owner of Beyerskloof winery near Stellenbosch. In 1991 he was named international Winemaker of the Year for his Kanonkop Pinotage 1989 at the International Wine and Spirit Competition and also famously won the prestigious Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Trophy for the World’s Best Bordeaux Blend with his 1991 Kanonkop Paul Sauer. 

Spending a last few days in London with his partner Lorraine Geldenhuys, who runs the Elsenberg Wine Cellar, taking in the summer sights and sounds of London, Beyers and I made a date to meet up again for a last few glasses of fine wine and fabulous oysters and seafood, before they headed back to South Africa.

I was fascinated to hear about the wine making venture Beyers is heading up in Angola with one of the countries 4 top army generals, planting among other things, Cabernet, Rubernet, Syrah and Pinotage. The vines are still young but the high altitude vineyards show great potential and it will be fascinating to taste these wines in due course.

Over lunch we enjoyed a few beautiful bottles including a Jean-Claude Ramonet Pernand Vergelesses 1er Cru Les Belles Filles 2014 Blanc that was salty, briney, fresh and supremely intense and focused with pithy white citrus and liquid minerals (94/100 GS); a fabulously serious Comtes Lafon Meursault 2011 that was initially tight and dense, but slowly opened up to unfurl a masterclass in Chardonnay showing yellow citrus, pithy minerality, dry lemon, a touch of reduction and just a delicate lick of oak (94+/100 GS); and finally a very attractive bottle of Domaine Dujac Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2011 which it turns out is one of Beyers’ favourite Burgundy appellations. The wine was beautifully fragrant with violets, cherry blossom and sappy forest fruits, following to a sappy, spicy, chalky palate with polished black berry fruits, plum and forest strawberries. Over lunch the wine just opened up to give more, and more, and more! A wow wine that’s young but sooo pretty. (96/100 GS).

Such a privilege to spend quality time with another of my ultimate South African wine legends. I look forward to visiting Beyers at Beyerskloof Winery hopefully later in the year. 

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