You simply don’t get bigger names in South African winemaking folklore than Beyers Truter who undoubtedly made his name and established it on the global wine map producing the fine wines of Kanonkop. While winemaker there he won numerous prestigious awards including the highly coveted Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Trophy for the World’s Best Red Blend with his iconic Paul Sauer 1991 Bordeaux blend.
But the true love affair in Beyer’s life has always been another grape variety, Pinotage which will probably be the one that defines his lasting legacy and high standing in the South African Winemaking Hall of Fame.
Like a school boy watching their Springbok rugby idols on tv, I used to stand in awe of Beyers whenever I’d attend a wine tasting. But of course many of those school boys came good and ended up playing rugby alongside their idols. I too grew up, became qualified in wine and now feel honoured to call people like Beyers Truter a good friend. One will never shake off the surreal feeling that accompanies these unique paths in life.
In 2019 it was with great honour that I was invited to judge on the ABSA Top 10 Pinotage Competition overseen by the Pinotage Association and of course Beyers Truter. It was a truly fantastic and enlightening experience getting to taste and assess so many top expressions of Pinotage in one moment. But after judging was completed, I could not pass up on the opportunity to visit the great man himself at his eponymous winery Beyerskloof to taste through a fabulous archive selection of his wines.
The Stellenbosch estate was planted in 2003 and started using their own fruit from the 2007/8 vintages.
Beyerskloof Pinotage Reserve 2005, WO Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch, 14 Abv.
Normally a combination 30% New oak using a selection of 2 or 3 better blocks. Bright earthy brambly nose with graphite an wood spice. Bright crisp acids with vibrant nervy black fruits and a savoury, steely finish. Holding up very well.
(Wine Safari 90+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Beyerskloof Pinotage Reserve 2004, WO Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch, 14 Abv.
Rich savoury oak complexity with boot polish, black cherry and graphite notes. Palate shows sweet and sour plum, plenty of punchy depth, mineral tannins and fine pin point freshness.
(Wine Safari Score: 92/100 Greg Sherwood)
Beyerskloof Pinotage Reserve 2003, WO Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch, 15 Abv.
From a warm, dry year, the nose shows slightly riper baked, sun dried fruit notes, strawberry jam, raisined cranberries and a round opulence with a creamy oak profile, plenty of generosity and great drinkability. The aromatics may have suffered from the heat but the palate fruit is certainly vital and punchy.
(Wine Safari Score: 89/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Beyerskloof Synergy 2006 Cape Blend, WO Stellenbosch, 14.5 Abv.
A blend of 41% Pinotage, 41% Shiraz, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Merlot. Rich bright youthful nose, this is a really complex melange of black fruits, and savoury meaty fruit. On the palate there is a smokey charcoal embers spice, gun smoke and sweet black fruit, cured meats and clean bright acids.
(Wine Safari Score: 92/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Beyerskloof Synergy 2005 Cape Blend, WO Stellenbosch, 14.5 Abv.
A blend of 50% Pinotage, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. Savoury ripe brambly fruits, earth and wood spice. The palate is vibrant yet mature, but shows a beautiful texture and polish demeanour. There are some stewed fruit notes to begin but the lasting impression is overt opulence, good purity and a harmonious texture.
(Wine Safari Score: 90/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Beyerskloof Synergy 2004 Cape Blend, WO Stellenbosch, 13.5 Abv.
A blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Pinotage, 30% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot. Opulent nose of sweet wet tobacco, cassis, black cherry and blue berry fruits. Wonderfully sleek, lithe, harmonious and finely poised with light touch tannins, superb acidity and an overall youthful persona. Delicious.
(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Beyerskloof Field Blend 2009, WO Stellenbosch, 14 Abv.
A blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon and 37% Merlot. Aged in 100% new French oak for 21-23 months. Attractive fragrant nose of dried mint leaf, potpourri, violets and savoury black currant and black plum. Grilled herbs and spice show a more compact, dense vintage that is 2009 with multi layers of flavour, texture and nuanced black berry complexity. A very smart expression.
(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Beyerskloof Field Blend 2008, WO Stellenbosch, 14.5 Abv.
A blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon and 37% Merlot. Dark deep, broody black fruit with notes of grilled herbs, sweet tobacco, black currant and leafy spice. The palate shows a sappy sweet / sour note, spicy wood tannins and good opulence but the showy nose is a little less revealing on the palate finishing with stewed red fruit notes.
(Wine Safari Score: 89/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Beyerskloof Field Blend 2007, WO Stellenbosch, 13.5 Abv.
A blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot. Cool dark broody nose with earthy sweet smokey spicy black fruits, tobacco and tannery leather, mint leaf and savoury black currant. Fleshy, balanced, a touch of sappy leafy fruit and a graphite finish.
(Wine Safari Score: 88+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)