From today’s Travel & Food supplement of The Sunday Times. Admen are not joking when they say Red Bull has wiiings, as three billion cans of the stuff are sold each year. Amy Winehouse, the torch song diva who flew to close to the flame, was a big fan. UK tabloid The Sun claimed she downed “gallons” of gin and Red Bull the day before her death. The secret of success for the energy drink is caffeine, a powerful stimulant whose usual delivery vehicle is coffee, a libation so addictive and fashionable, the coffee shops of 17th century Europe have now spread across the planet.
So when Bertus Fourie, winemaker at Diemersfontein a decade ago, discovered by accident that Pinotage reacts to extreme wooding by exhibiting the aromatics and flavours of a rich espresso, it was a fortuitous mistake indeed. Bertus told The Bolander that “the ‘coffee taste’ is a result of the function of the metabolism of the yeast combined with the effect of the oak staves on the wine. The beauty of this style is that it’s only Pinotage that gives this beautiful fruit and coffee flavour” as he tried it without result on Merlot and Shiraz.
Sales of Diemersfontein Pinotage shot off the scale and Bertus was enticed to repeat his brew at KWV. Café Culture was the result, a wine which was hailed as best SA red of show at an International Wine Challenge in Vietnam, the world’s second largest producer of coffee after Brazil. Barista was his next venture at Val de Vie and soon the style had gobbled up 80% of the Pinotage market by volume with imitators such as Beanotage from Marius Malan, Le Café from Clos Malverne and African Java from Van Loveren surfacing.
No surprise to report that it’s a popular in the USA where coffee is king. The Grinder ($17) is one leading brand that states “no, there’s no coffee (or caffeine) added” but last year at a food processing conference in Cape Town, some academics from the University of Pretoria reported that while investigating “synergistic effects of aroma compounds and studying these compounds using multi-dimensional chromatography and novel off-line olfactometry” – basically can you make coffee aromas and flavours without coffee beans? – tested four Pinotage wines made in the coffee/mocha style.
One of the samples showed high levels of caffeine, which would imply that at least one sample had been intimate with a bean, an illegal additive for a wine. If the caffeine came from wood or grapes, all samples would be expected to show it and PC Plod could carry on drinking his rooibos tea, unconcerned.
My contacts in the Pinotage fraternity knew all about the study and had been expecting some reaction from the media. Which has now finally come to the boil, although describing the official reaction as snail-like, is an insult to gastropods. Everyone, the Pinotage Association, WOSA – the exporters association – is waiting for the Department of Agriculture to formulate a response. Perhaps they should drink a cup of coffee to wake up.
Swak. Very swak.
The article itself is reasonable, but the Amy reference weakens your story.
Everyone is climbing on the Amy bandwagon, for no apparent reason other than to feed off the media frenzy.
Do you really think that the SA wine producers will thank you ?
Rich, I wrote this story ten days ago and the Amy reference was simply to emphasize how popular energy drinks are. If caffeine is indeed being added, coffee Pinotage would be a great (and legal) energy drink if it was called a cooler instead of a wine. It would probably sell even bigger volumes!
I have no intention of climbing onto an Amy bandwagon.
Swak?its an analogy! then will the wine producers thank him, I doubt he cares. if he quotes jim morrison then what?