Parentage of the grape: Pinot Noir, Cinsault

History of the grape: In 1925, Stellenbosch University Chief Horticulture Professor Abraham Izak Perold created the Pinotage hybrid by crossing the French varietals Pinot Noir and Cinsault (locally known as “Hermitage”). His attempt at creating a signature grape for the country of South Africa succeeded. The grape grows and ripens easily in the country’s soils, due mostly to the robust Cinsault genes it carries. The flavor of wines made with the grapes can take some getting used to, however. While the Pinot Noir lends some gracious fruit qualities to the mix, Cinsault, which is mostly a blending grape back home in France, gives it a more rustic structure that tends to dominate. 
The early history of Pinotage was precarious at best. While it was embraced as a South African grape and widely planted and produced by the 1960s, many countries were wary to do business with South Africa due to its ongoing Apartheid practices. A Read more »

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