My recent tasting and lunch with Beyers Truter raised a lot of questions around Pinotage – it’s styles, it’s ageability and it’s future. Who better to explore these questions with than Mr Pinotage himself, Beyers Truter. So after our lunch, I assured him I’d explore these questions in more depth when I had access to my cellar in Pretoria where many of his vinous gems lurk. Here’s my assessment…
Kanonkop 1997 Vs Beyerskloof 1998:
Kanonkop Pinotage 1997 Magnum, Stellenbosch, 13 Abv.
Perfect cork, this Magnum started off a touch muted as would be expected. But 30-45 minutes of breathing reavealed a dense, powerful wine. From a very late, long hanging vintage, the nose is full of sweet bramble berry fruits, cedar spice, raisined red berries, strawberry confit and cherry pastille sweets. Hardly any tertiary notes at 20 years of age suggest this wine is still a baby. The palate is fleshy and opulent, showing sweet tannins, raisoned cranberries, red orchard fruits, strawberry jam, red apples and black plum. The texture is dense and broad, carrying much more concentration and weight of fruit than you’d expect on a 13 Abv wine. The finish is sappy and spicy, sweetly fruited and complex with a long, youthful finish. Give this another 10+ years I reckon.
(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Beyerskloof Pinotage 1998, Stellenbosch, 13 Abv.
Interesting style departure between these two wines, with the Beyerskloof coming across in a much crunchier, red fruited expression as if it was trying to advertise its Cinsaut parentage. The nose is bright and spicy, with cedary, sappy, stalky complexity marrying well with red plum, bramble berries, redcurrant and cranberry tartness. Whether from vintage variation or fruit source, there is much more herbal tension, crushed leaves and spicy sappy red berry fruit. The tannins are soft, precise and very sweet, with the mid palate developing a ‘strawberry jam on white toast’ opulence. Due to its crunchier, fresher style, the granitic minerality is much more pronounced than on the Kanonkop, making this feel more like a food wine than the Kanonkop. No rush to drink this up as I’d like to see more tertiary Pinot Noir’ish, foresty complexity in another 8 to 10 years. An intriguing expression.
(Wine Safari Score: 92/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
So after much tasting and retasting, I put the question to my guests… which did they consider the better wine? A tough question considering the Beyerskloof probably cost less than a third of the price of a bottle of Kanonkop at the time and was also probably made to be drunk younger (the label says drink within 8 years).
So the verdict is the same score with Kanonkop getting an extra + based on its assured age ability, its youthfulness, its density and its track record. But the real winner has to be Beyerskloof for is freshness, purity, mineral depth, and great value.
3 thoughts on “Head to Head ~ Kanonkop Versus Beyerskloof Pinotage…”
I like Kanonkop wines. But I absolutley Love Beyerskloof wines. Pinatoge no 1.
Beyers is a master. But there is an extra vibrancy in the Beyerskloof wines.
Interesting article! As I just opened a bottle of the 1997 Kanonkop – unfortunately a demi-magnum 😉 – and it is astonishingly fresh and youthful. On the nose it now has some tertiary aromas: earthy tones, cigar box and some leathery aromas, but on the palate it is still very young and fresh. A lot of red cherry, dried berry fruits and plums. A very ‘young’ wine concerning the 22 years. Excellent wine, but I will definitely keep some bottles for another few years, to watch its development.