I never fail to be intrigued by the connections afforded by the wine world. Call it six brix of separation.
These days it seems icewine comes in every varietal and colour. I have to admit I’m not always a fan. There are way too many ‘sugar bombs’ around for my liking—and not every variety is suited to icewine just because it survives the annual onslaught of birds and bears. And, yes, I still think Riesling makes the best.
However, especially on the heels of London’s South Africa / Argentina / Chile mega-tasting, when I dropped by Stoneboat the other day I couldn’t resist a sip of their Pinotage icewine.
Actually (just to be polite, you understand) I did taste both the ‘regular’ Pinotage (90 pts) and the ‘reserve’ Solo 2011 (91 pts) before we got to the icewine. You could say it was kind of a South African hommage. Besides, I rarely, if ever, pass up a chance to taste a Stoneboat wine. They’re one of the Okanagan’s most consistent—and well priced—producers.
I’m also mindful that we gave Stoneboat a Lieutenant Governor’s Award for their 2009 Pinotage, which in my opinion, very much helped to legitimize the variety in the Okanagan.
Some years ago, at the first big South African tasting at Olympia, I discovered the Pinotage Society table, where I told them about Stoneboat. They were quite intrigued that somebody in Canada’s far flung west was growing their favourite variety. And I’m pretty sure, on my suggestion, some eventually made its way from the Okanagan.
Veteran grower and Stoneboat co-owner Lanny Martiniuk originally propagated Pinotage for Lake Breeze Vineyards in nearby Naramata but liked it so much he decided to grow it himself.
Stoneboat’s 2012 Pinotage Icewine was actually harvested in 2013—not an uncommon occurrence in recent years. It’s a very pretty salmon colour, quite floral, with lifted strawberry aromas that follow through on a palate supported by good length and decent acidity. It’s viscose without being heavy. (90 pts). I’d be inclined to try it with milder blue cheeses or even foie gras.
Lanny is pretty excited about the response to the wine, which has recently included him being interviewed by a Cape Town radio station.
If you’d like more on Stoneboat’s love affair with Pinotage check into Peter May’s Pinotage Club.