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Pinotage: Behind the Legends of South Africa's Own Wine
Pinotage: Behind the Legends of South Africa's Own Wine
by F Peter May
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.46

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced but no burnt tyres, 17 Aug 2009
Pinotage: Behind the Legends of South Africa's Own Wine

This review was first published in GrapesTALK Magazine Summer 2009

Warren Edwardes

Peter F May, in PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa's Own Wine, has made a truly entertaining `detective' tale of his researches into Pinotage's origin.

May starts with the back story of how he became interested in Pinotage and why in 1997 he set up The Pinotage Club, a fan-club for the variety. He brings us up to speed with run through of 350 years of winemaking in South Africa and a brief bio of Professor Perold who created Pinotage in - well, when?

For such a young variety it seems that little is known about its early days. Even the year it was created depends on which source you read. May now starts the mystery section of his book by introducing four stories about the origin of the variety, which are the legends referred to in the title. These legends, un-official anecdotes argued about in South Africa's wine lands, are:

1) Pinotage was created by crossing Pinot Noir and Hermitage (as Cinsaut was known) because red Burgundy was Prof Perold's preferred wine while Tassenberg - a very cheap red wine brand made from Cinsaut- was favoured by his University students.

2) Perold created Pinotage because Pinot Noir wouldn't grow in the Cape and he wanted to get its nobility by crossing it with the sturdy Cinsaut.

3) Perold crossed Pinot Noir with Hermitage. But Hermitage wasn't Cinsaut, Hermitage was also a synonym for Shiraz so Pinotage is a Pinot Noir X Shiraz cross

4) Perold thought he'd crossed Pinot Noir with Hermitage but he was too late, the recipient flower had already been accidentally fertilised and the donor was an American hybrid vine called Jacquez being grown as a rootstock plant.

Peter F May then takes each legend and tracks down the truth behind them in turn until, in a surprising climax, he comes face to face with the truth. Along the way he uncovers new evidence about Jacquez which shows that experts, including Jancis Robinson, have got its origins wrong. He also uncovers what South Africa meant by Hermitage, which supplied the latter part of Pinotage's name.

He then looks at the mystery behind Pinotage's date of birth. But as May says "no-one has even broached the question of what is meant by `created'. Is it when the flower was first pollinated or when its seed was planted; when the vine's initial shoot emerged above ground, or when the future mother vine was selected? Or is it when the first experimental wine was made, or the first commercial vineyard planted or the first commercial Pinotage varietal wine was released?" May refers to sources which give dates between the17th Century and 1928, and official South African records which have Pinotage being grown in 1900, twenty-five years before its generally accepted creation.

Having satisfactorily investigated the various legends, May goes looking for the oldest living Pinotage vineyards and finds them.

May speaks with a leading viticulturist to discover why grape vines have to be propagated by taking cuttings rather than planting their seeds and learns that it is to do with vines having odd-number of chromosomes that makes breeding them like pulling the lever on a one-armed bandit. May visits a grape vine nursery to see how vines are produced and follows Pinotage as it is propagated, grown, harvested, made into wine and marketed, with case studies along the way including an organic vineyard, an old fashioned small owner/winemaker small winery and two major brand names. He tracks down the first man to sell Pinotage wine outside of South Africa and meets Graham Knox, the name behind the web-promoted Stormhoek brand.

The use of Pinotage in blends and the arguments still raging in South Africa about the usage of the term `Cape Blend' on a Pinotage based blend are discussed. In a chapter jokingly titled `Isn't it Rubbery' May looks at complaints of Pinotage tasting like burned rubber and the issue of why the variety attracts such hostility in some quarters.

Usually when Pinotage is profiled its existence in other countries is a footnote, if mentioned at all, but May devotes a lot of space to the subject. I was surprised to learn that New Zealand has been making Pinotage for nearly as long as South Africa. The first commercial varietal New Zealand Pinotage vintage was just five years after South Africa's first. May travels around New Zealand, from the tip of the North Island down to Otago at the bottom of the South Island where he finds the southern-most Pinotage, New Zealand's oldest vines, the worlds only ungrafted vines, and even a Kiwi `cape blend'. He harvests the first Pinotage grapes grown in Ontario, Canada and travels through the USA visiting Pinotage wineries in California and Virginia.

1959 was the vintage year of the first commercial South African Pinotage which means that this is the 50th anniversary of the wine, as well as the 350th anniversary of winemaking in South Africa, so May has chosen an opportune time to publish his book.

I could have done with more photographs to remind me of my wonderful year in South Africa just after Mandela was released, but I applaud the comprehensive end-notes and a good index which is all too often missing from books these days. '


NeilMed SinusRinse Saline Nasal Rinse 120 Sachets
NeilMed SinusRinse Saline Nasal Rinse 120 Sachets
Price: £13.75

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Effective but expensive, 22 May 2009
The Sinus Rinse salts are extremely effective and I have been a delighted regular user. I just remain a little suspicious that ordinary sea salt would be just as effective and safe.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 5, 2013 12:53 PM BST


ARTISAN BREAD IN 5 MINUTES A DAY: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking
ARTISAN BREAD IN 5 MINUTES A DAY: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking
by Jeff Hertzberg & Zoe Francois
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.39

52 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real bread made at home, 13 April 2008
I met Jeff Hertzberg about 20 years ago in Palenque, Mexico. I was an investment banker on "gardening leave" and Jeff was a doctor. Two decades later I met up with Jeff and his wife Laura to discover that he had just written a book on bread and I had, in the meantime, set up a wine business - Wine for Spice.

When Hertzberg, a physician and amateur bread enthusiast, teamed up with François, a renowned pastry chef and baker, the right ingredients came together for bakers craving fast, simple homemade bread. The results from the oven are easy enough for an amateur to master after one attempt, but delicious enough to meet the standards of a professional chef. The pair developed an innovative recipe for refrigerator-stored dough that can be kept for up to two weeks and that will yield a variety of artisan breads that look and taste like they came straight from a boulangerie.

Because the dough is pre-mixed in bulk, active preparation time for each basic loaf is only five minutes a day, and can be spontaneously used at the last minute. The authors share nearly 100 recipes using variations on the basic technique--such as baguettes, pizzas, and pain d'epi--plus other breads and accompanying dishes that all make fantastic quick hors d'oeuvres for wine-tastings. A sampling of the recipes confirms that anyone can achieve a professional-quality result, including home bakers with no prior experience with yeast breads.

I normally cook and eat Basmati rice with my spicy food. That's easy enough in 15 minutes using my microwave. But bread will henceforth be also on the menu. I plan to lean heavily on the Hertzberg and François recipe for naan, which radically simplifies the traditional recipe for this buttery Indian flatbread.

The basic recipe can be used to make a delicious naan:

Mix four ingredients with a spoon -flour, water, salt, and yeast, forming a very wet dough. Don't knead it or otherwise spend time with it. Allow it to rise at room temperature for two hours.

To make a naan, cut off a 100 gram piece (peach-size). Shape it into a ball, then roll out with a rolling pin, to a thickness of 1/2 cm and a diameter of 20 cm. Heat a heavy skillet over high heat on the stovetop, add a tablespoon of ghee (or oil), and drop the dough round into the skillet, decrease the heat to medium, and cover. Check for doneness at 3 minutes, or sooner if you're smelling overly quick browning. Adjust heat as needed. Flip naan when underside is richly browned. Continue cooking another 2 to 6 minutes, until second side is browned.

Its now time once again to make your own bread!


300 [2007] [DVD]
300 [2007] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Gerard Butler
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.89

9 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish, 2 Feb 2008
This review is from: 300 [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
Extremely disappointing. I was expecting something like Gladiator or Helen of Troy but was disappointed. Poor acting. B-movie sex scenes with lots of shouting.


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