This afternoon (Monday, 19 July 2010), I attended the unveiling of the 2007 Pinotage in Barkan's top-of-the-line Superieur series. The unveiling was also the raison d'etre of each of the Superieur and Reserve Pinotage wines released since Barkan was the first winery in the country to introduce this varietal wine in 2001.
Vertical tastings are always appreciated as they add perspective to one's knowledge about a particular wine. I will admit to a bit of surprise in this case, however, for the releases tasted dated back to 2001 and even the very best Pinotage wines that I have sampled over the years rarely cellar well for more than six years, many in fact destined for drinking within 3 – 4 years of the vintage.
The tasting was attended by CEO Shmuel Boxer, senior executive Carmi Lebenstein, and winemakers Ed Salzberg, Yotam Sharon and Irit Boxer. My thanks to each of them for a fine tasting and good conversation.
Barkan, Pinotage, Superieur, 2007: Dark, almost impenetrable garnet and full-bodied, a meaty and herbal wine with near sweet, gently gripping tannins and spicy wood parting to reveal plums, currants and dried figs, those supported nicely by notes of sweet herbs. Long and generous, with tannins and fruits rising on the finish. Drink now-2014. Score 90. K (Tasted 19 Jul 2010)
Barkan, Pinotage, Superieur, 2002: Dark garnet with a bit of clearing at the rim, full-bodied, with its ripe blackberry, black cherry and currant fruits now showing light overlays of roasted herbs and earthy minerals and first notes of oxidation giving away its maturity. Holds nicely in the glass for 10 minutes and then quietly falls apart. Showing age, so drink up. Score 88. K (Re-tasted twice with consistent notes 19 Jul 2010)
Barkan, Pinotage, Reserve, 2008: Dark garnet, full-bodied, with gently gripping tannins. Developed in French and American oak, full-bodied, with aromas and flavors of black currants, plums and figs, those supported nicely by notes of sweet herbs and briar. Drink now-2013. Score 90. K (Re-tasted 19 Jul 2010)
Barkan, Pinotage, Reserve, 2007: My most recent tasting note holds firmly. Oak-aged for 12 months, dark garnet and concentrated, with purple plum and blackberry notes along with sweet and spicy notes that run through this medium- to full-bodied and gently tannic wine. Drink now. Score 87. K (Re-tasted 19 Jul 2010)
Barkan, Pinotage, Reserve, 2006: Dark garnet with orange reflections, its once gripping tannins now integrated nicely and parting to show generous berry, black cherry, purple plum and cassis notes, those supported by notes of earthy minerals and tobacco. Notes of cloves and cinnamon rise on the moderately-long finish. Drink now or in the next year or so. Score 87. K (Re-tasted 19 Jul 2010)
Barkan, Pinotage, Reserve, 2005: Garnet toward purple, now showing medium- to full-bodied, with soft, near-sweet tannins and reflecting its 12 months in oak with generous spicy wood. Opens to show straightforward berry, cherry and plum fruits on a lightly spicy background. Showing better than at earlier tastings but not meant for further cellaring. Drink now. Score 87. K (Re-tasted 19 Jul 2010)
Barkan, Pinotage, Reserve, 2004: With its generous wood and tannins now integrated nicely and parting to reveal blackberries, plums and black cherries, those on a light herbal and leathery background. Medium- to full bodied, still drinking well but not for further cellaring. Drink up. Score 88. K (Re-tasted 19 Jul 2010)
Barkan, Pinotage, Reserve, 2002: Dark garnet, medium- to full-bodied, with its once firm tannins now integrated. Alas, suffering from the "2002 curse" and its berry and currant fruits are now marred by overlays of bitter herbs and a note of balsamic vinegar that develop as the wine sits in the glass. Drink up. Score 85. (Re-tasted 19 Jul 2010)
Barkan, Pinotage, Reserve, 2001: Dark garnet with hints of browning and clearing at the rim, with the acidity now rising together with notes of balsamic vinegar, and on the palate not so much fruity as it is meaty and herbal. Well past its peak and no longer scoreable. K (Re-tasted 19 Jul 2010)