Domaine Saint Gregory2004 Pinotage
Mendocino legend Greg Graziano has three labels and this one, Saint Gregory, is the one where you’ll find the French-sounding varieties, including Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and this one, Pinotage. It’s a find, indeed.
Pinotage is a grape variety whose genetic parents are Pinot Noir and Cinsault, a Rhone grape that is typically used in blending. Cinsault is a prolific cropper, and much hardier than Pinot Noir. Developed at the University of Stellenbosch in 1925, Pinotage was unique to South Africa for many years, but is starting to see a lot more dirt here in the US. We now have maybe 50 acres total planted here in California.
Greg made this wine from two relatively new vineyards (Gephardt & Barrett Vineyards), located in southern Mendocino County. Picked at 25 brix, the wine was aged for 17 months in small French oak burgundy barrels from the Vosges forest, of which 30% were new.
Pinotage is a very spicy, aromatic, distinctive variety that grabs you by the nose hairs and won’t let you go. This is a wild, filly in the Spring wine from start to finish. The pungent nose of wild berries, sour cherries and blood oranges has enticing hints of cinnamon and cloves. Its very distinctive earthy flavors of dill, basil and peppery salami, alternate with wild red raspberries and cherries. It is almost chameleon-like in the way it changes on the palate. Always completely mouth-filling with a velvety texture, it is perfectly balanced by lively acidity. Like a good movie or novel you’d recommend without hesitation, this wine has a very intense, lingering and unforgettable finish. It’s primarily cherries and orange peel, and some peppery spiciness thrown in, so you know who’s boss. This is a delightful food wine, and it stands up to everything from grilled dry-rubbed tri-tip to rich creamy pasta with chipotle chicken and wild mushrooms. It has the acidity and brightness of a Pinot Noir and the soul of Cinsault. If you’re looking for an unusual wine to serve with your typically multi-dimensional summer grill affairs, this wine will take it all on.
Reviewed July 3, 2006 by Laura Ness.
A wine writer and wine judge for major publications and competitions around the country, Laura Ness likens wine to the experience of music. She is always looking for that ubiquitous marriage of rhythm, melody, and flawless execution. What is good music? You know it when you get lost in it. What is good wine? It is music in your mouth.