AG Pick: Dark Lady Pinotage 2010

Pinotage, whether it deserves it or not, is one of the most notorious New World grapes. Those who have tasted this South African red wine either love it or hate it, with many American wine drinkers falling into the latter category.

South Africa’s signature varietal, Pinotage was created in the 1920s by crossing Pinot Noir and Cinsault (known locally as Hermitage). Done well, Pinotage can have flavors of chocolate, coffee, red fruit and smoke. Done poorly, Pinotage can taste gamey with notes of burnt rubber and rusted metal.

Forget what you’ve heard or previously tasted. Just try the Dark Lady of the Labyrinth Dark Delight Pinotage 2010 and you will never think the same way about Pinotage.

This red from Doolhof Wine Estate is soft, supple and elegant.

Doolhof Wine Estate is located in the Bovlei Valley northeast of Wellington. Its name, meaning labyrinth, is meant to evoke images of the valley’s topography. Doolhof Wine Estate is a member of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative, a partnership between the South African wine industry and the conservation sector.

A lot of care was put into the Dark Lady Pinotage during and after fermentation to tame the wine. Wood played an important role in softening the wine and enhancing the desirable flavors; malolactic fermentation took place in oak and the wine spent time in heavily toasted French oak barrels.

While most Pinotage is big and bold like a Petit Sirah or Zinfandel, the Dark Lady Pinotage is lighter and more nuanced, like a fuller-bodied Pinot Noir.

The wine lures you in with intense aromas of cherry, chocolate and spice. The taste unfolds gradually, with flavors of black plum, cherry and boysenberry mixed with chocolate, coffee, white pepper, licorice and cedar. It is velvety in texture with a long and satisfying finish.

Lush and layered, the Dark Lady Pinotage is a real surprise — and a treat. Before you make up your mind about Pinotage you must give this wine a taste.

A bottle of the Dark Lady of the Labyrinth Dark Delight Pinotage 2010 costs $20.

alcohol 13% by volume

Earlier: What’s the Deal with Pinotage?

More Red Wines | White Wines | Under $20