2013 Darlings Cellars Chocoholic Pinotage
Chocoholic Pinotage is the production of Darling Cellars situated (expectedly!!) in the Darling region. This region is considered a rather cool-climate for South Africa, with a strong influence of the Atlantic Ocean and the cool Benguela Current.
Despite the proximity of the ocean, the area is very dry and only receives minimal yearly rainfall. This Pinotage is therefore produced, like most wine is the region, from ‘dry land’, and using the very draught-resistant vine training system: bush vines. Darling Cellars claims that ‘this is as close to what nature intended for grapes to be as one can get’, because there is no complicated training system in place (the shape of the vines man imposes to vines), and no irrigation.
The above is a rather surprising marketing message considering the wine’s name. Did nature intend to grow Cocoa tree there, that even grape vines produce grapes that can be turned into a ‘Chocoholic’ wine?
Well let’s find out what nature, and winemakers, have told through this colorfully labeled wine.
Appearance: the wine is fairly dark, revealing an appealing dark red-purple color as you pour. Imagine you’re blending the blue color of the label with the red color of the ‘Pinotage’ ribbon on it, and that’s pretty much the color of the wine. Decidedly a clever piece of packaging.
Nose: Here I have to say that my wine was tasted fairly fresh. On a warm NZ-summer day, one would rather stay on the ‘fresh’ side of this 14+% abv wine. The cooler temperature helps revealing fresh plum flavours on the nose. There are also a lot of spices coming out of the glass: clove, cinnamon, and vanilla. Despite the cold wine, an animal character is present, but intriguing rather than unpleasant. The wine may have more genuine character than the well-marketed label and name suggest.
Palate: the first palate is fairly sweet and mouth-watering. A bit jammy to be honest. But it’s a plum jam that is not too overly cooked. It is an explosion of plum jam flavors though, that drives the whole tasting. This is surrounded by spices as described on the nose. Only nutmeg I would add. The tannins are present, supporting the rather-oily texture and giving it a welcome (in this world of jamminess) light sensation of smooth dryness.
Overall, a well-made wine. Well-marketed and that delivers on expectations if yours are for a fruit-driven, sweet yet spicy approachable wine from South Africa. It is overall balanced, on the sweet and smooth side of things. I couldn’t really get the chocolate flavor though. But jam all the way. A good Jamoholic Pinotage then !
This retails at around £8 (ex-tax) in he UK, $17 in New Zealand. More pricing details on Wine-Searcher.
Further info about the producer and this wine at darlingcellars.co.za