Description 1 of 2

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 full stop trade embargo with South Africa was enacted in the mid 1980s with many countries, including the US. When Apartheid ended and the embargo was lifted, the Pinotage releases that were exported were unreliable in quality and garnered a poor reputation for South African wine and Pinotage. This is because during the trade complications, international investments in quality production were scarce. But once things got back on track in the 1990s, international wine investors saw their opportunity and quality wine production in South Africa began in earnest. While Pinotage releases can still be hit and miss, there are some labels that have learned to produce Pinotage with the finesse needed to tame its harsh aspects and let its strengths shine. 
 
Characteristics of the grape: deep, dark purple, strong tannins, slightly bitter, blackberry, dark cherry, tobacco, lapsang-souchon tea, earth, peat, bananas, often has rubbery qualities like bandaids or tires 
 
Regions where the grape is currently important: South Africa, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Canada, Israel, California, Virginia
 
Type or types of wines the grape produces: dry red wine, “Cape Blends” (with other French varietals), rosé
 
– Description from Amanda Schuster

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Description 2 of 2

Pinotage is a South African grape variety that was bred in 1925 as a cross between Pinot Noir and Hermitage (Cinsaut). It is considered South Africa's signature variety, and makes varietal wines characterised by earthy, smoky and bramble fruit characters. Bananas, tropical fruit and acetone notes can sometimes also be noted. It can also be blended with other varieties, or used in making fortified and red sparkling wine. – Description from penguinoid

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