Wine of the Week: Lively Grove Eighth Wonder Pinotage

Wine: Lively Grove Eighth Wonder Pinotage

Grape: Pinotage

Region: Stellenbosch, South Africa

Vintage: 2011

Price: $8.99

Availability: Lee’s Discount Liquor

In the glass: Eighth Wonder Pinotage is a fine deep ruby-red color with a semiopaque core going out into a light crimson-red rim definition with medium viscosity.

On the nose: This wine performs exactly as I would expect with rich crushed red and black fruits over bacon fat, smoked meat, brimstone and tar, then hints of embers, tobacco and earth-driven warm minerals and just a touch of grated pomegranate peel.

On the palate: The wine shows exactly what pinotage is all about with rustic black fruits, again tons of smoked meat such as beef jerky, bacon, andouille sausage and saucy fruit extract with hints of smoky oak and minerality. The midpalate is rich with dark fruits, even though I would say this is more of a medium-bodied wine in terms of style and yet it has a pleasant finish with yet more hints of smoke and some herbs components, as well as phenolic compounds.

Odds and ends: South Africa is truly one of the most amazing countries in the world and has seemingly everything going for it, despite the hardships and turmoil of the past. It has a wine industry going back almost 400 years. At the same time, it has been more than a year since I found a South African wine to write about. I taste plenty of them, but often they seem to not perform to the levels that I would like to see, especially when price is taken into consideration. Pinotage is a strange hybrid grape variety coming from a cross between pinot noir and cinsault, so it’s like Burgundy meets Rhone in a different part of the world. The Huguenots brought these varieties with them when they fled France in the 17th century and pinotage is indigenous to only South Africa. There used to be a plethora of South African wines coming into the U.S. market, but when the Australian wine boom died out, it is as if it took the South Africans with it. Wholly undeserved I might add, since there are many excellent and really well-made wines coming out of that marvelous country. This pinotage is like a match made in heaven for duck confit or alternatively bacon-wrapped tenderloin of beef with a peppercorn sauce. Drink it now through 2017.

Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at