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Kanonkop 1998 Stellenbosch Pinotage ($23.99)
KanonkopInky garnet, almost black. Forward scents of raspberries, roses and saddle leather, enticing and complex. Ripe, tart fruit and earthy flavors consistent with the nose, shaped by lemon-squirt acidity. About as pricey a Pinotage as I've seen, but it's a first-rate wine with real South African character. U.S. importer: Frederick Wildman & Sons, NYC. (Sept. 22, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: Fine with a straightforward pan-grilled strip steak.

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Simonsig 1998 Stellenbosch Pinotage ($10.99)
SimonsigVery dark garnet color. Red fruit and earthy aromas with a hint of the stereotypical Pinotage "paintbox." Tart fruit, then a salad-dressing whiff of volatile acidity becomes evident with time in the glass. OK quaff, not for keeping. U.S. importer: American Wine Distributors Inc., San Francisco. (Sept. 22, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: Works well with rare steak.

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All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I accept no free samples from wineries or distributors, purchasing all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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