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Pinotage: Behind the Legends of South Africa's Own Wine Paperback – 6 Apr 2009

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Inform and Enlighten (6 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0956152309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956152305
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 1.3 x 15.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,416,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
We never cease to be astounded by the Pinot Noir explosion which was triggered by an inexplicably influential scene in that otherwise unremarkable film 'Sideways.' Perhaps the elevation of Pinot Noir to a pantheon previously consisting only of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot was waiting to happen. Since then, Pinot Gris or Grigio seems to have arrived in that company without any particular catalyst so maybe there is hope for others?

Peter May's book "Pinotage: behind the legend" was a title on Kindle we couldn't resist. Mr. May also wrote a book (bonkbuster?) on Merlot called something like "Marylin Merlot" which we don't feel the need to download. Otherwise, there can't be many works devoted to the history and promotion of a single variety.

"Pinotage: behind the legend" hasn't had the effect of 'Sideways' so far but is a way it is a model for what potentially could be a genre. There are some other grape varieties which could tell a story - our favourite Ramisco (in that case a tear-jerker), the Torrontes of Argentina (a mystery tale), some of the more outlandish hybrids (humour). Even Pinot Grigio/Grauburgunder has a chequered history (see Johann Seger Ruhland).

May slightly over-eggs the "legend" of Pinotage but it is still an interesting story and this book has everything you would ever want to know about the variety. We guarantee after reading this study you will go out and buy a bottle of Pinotage.
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Format: Paperback
A few years ago, Peter May graciously spent two days driving me to various vineyards in the Stellenbosch region of South Africa. I was fortunate to be with this authority on the Pinotage grape, as well as on South African wine. This is clear from his book Pinotage, in which Peter outlines historical myths about this grape, then systematically debunks these myths based on thorough research. Peter's research shows that his attention to detail delivers clarity regarding the origins of this grape variety.

Oddly, decades ago Pinotage was on the verge of being forgotten about by South African vintners. They embraced grape varieties that were more popular on the market - such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Frustrated by this truth, Peter began a website praising the virtues of Pinotage, and (though he is too modest to tell this truth) became a contributing, authoritative voice that helped bring Pinotage from near obscurity to being the flagship grape for which South Africa is now known.

Pinotage is an entertaining and lively story that includes history, mystery, and detective work. The author's passion about the grape shines through his writing. Pinotage is a joy to read. If you like wine in general, or Pinotage specifically, this book is a must.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
a book,that is good reading for the Viticultural and wine enthuthiest.AnInteresting study of the histoy and development of the wine grape variety Pinotage.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9066921c) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90671678) out of 5 stars Fascinating Exploration of an Unusual Wine 14 Oct. 2011
By Lisa Shea - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As I run a wine site, I get deluged with books about wine. Most of them tend to be rather boring, dry, and stuffy. "Chardonnay comes from X. It goes well with Y. Drink the offerings from region Z." You open the next book and it says the exact same thing. It gets to the point where you dread getting another book in the mail to take a look at. Could they possibly have something new to offer?

Pinotage by Peter May is a refreshing change. The book is a detective story that begins immersed in the orange soils and clear bright blue skies of South Africa. Peter explores the dusty dirt roads and quiet corners, seeking out information, filtering out the rumor from the fact. He provides beautiful images of the landscapes he has visited and intriguing discussions with the winemakers about the vines and wines they adore.

Peter didn't stop there. He headed out to California, New Zealand, even up-and-coming Virginia to track down winemakers who were fond of this delicious grape. In each location he found a wealth of information and history.

He provides the DNA history of pinotage as well as reams of footnotes, so that an enthusiastic scholar can walk in his footsteps and see where he gleaned all of his information. I appreciate that a lot - it helps me feel secure in the details that Peter provides.

If I had one suggestion it would be for a color version so that I could enjoy the images even more, but I imagine the price of the book would skyrocket as a result. So I'm content to enjoy this copy, and while most wine books get read once and then shelved, this one actually is fun on a second read!

Recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x906716d8) out of 5 stars A Wine Book that Reads like a Novel 28 Sept. 2013
By Tom Mullen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
A few years ago, Peter May graciously spent two days driving me to various vineyards in the Stellenbosch region of South Africa. I was fortunate to be with this authority on the Pinotage grape, as well as on South African wine. This is clear from his book Pinotage, in which Peter outlines historical myths about this grape, then systematically debunks these myths based on thorough research. Peter had described himself as 'pedantic,' and his research shows that this attention to detail delivers clarity regarding the origins of this grape variety.

Oddly, decades ago Pinotage was on the verge of being forgotten about by South African vintners. They embraced grape varieties that were more popular on the market - such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Frustrated by this truth, Peter began a website praising the virtues of Pinotage, and (though he is too modest to tell this truth) became a contributing, authoritative voice that helped bring Pinotage from near obscurity to being the flagship grape for which South Africa is now known.

Pinotage is an entertaining and lively story that includes history, mystery, and detective work. The author's passion about the grape shines through his writing. Pinotage is a joy to read. If you like wine in general, or Pinotage specifically, this book is a must.
HASH(0x9067369c) out of 5 stars Five Stars 2 Mar. 2015
By Jon Clements - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great read for any wine lover.
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