The inspiration for this wine came from a stubborn belief that Pinotage today has its place among more established varieties. It can produce wines of intrigue and complexity -without becoming harsh, chemical or showing any of the other cruel features that its detractors have reason to name. Treat it meanly and Pinotage will show its angry side. Through its clarity and purity of fruit, its lithe texture and its absence of any kind of aggression. It is not a monster; it is a soul with a heart and one which will repay kindness with abundant generosity of its own.
Dr. Abraham Perold was the South African viticulturist and scientist who in 1925 germinated, at Stellenbosch University, the Pinotage varietal by intermingling two species of grapes which, arguably, should never have been given life together : Pinot Noir & Cinsault. A century earlier, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, from Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, created an equally strange creature, also by stitching together different body parts from mismatched ‘donors’. The Radford Dale Frankenstein Pinotage is our nod to the work carried out in his laboratory by South Africa’s first professor of viticulture, Abraham Perold, and a wink to the creature he created.
In the Vineyard
The old bush vines that make this individualistic Pinotage are rooted in unusual white clay at the foot of the Helderberg Mountain. Unirrigated, these vines plunge their roots deep into the earth in search of moisture to sustain the ripening of grapes into the long dry summers of the Cape. In 2016 this vineyard turned 27 years old and as such the crop is small, but wonderfully concentrated which allows for early picking.
In the Cellar
The grapes were hand picked into small 20kg lug boxes and then hand sorted as with all Radford Dale grapes. A large percentage of bunches were de-stemmed but not crushed so that about 50% of berries were transferred to our foudre (a large open top, oak fermenter). This meant that during the fermentation a partial carbonic fermentation took place which helped to enhance the pure fruited nature of the wine, while ensuring a limited extraction of tannins. The wine was then lightly basket pressed and transferred by gravity to barrel for maturation. A particular focus during the vinification of this wine was to employ the most gentle, most traditional of techniques from harvesting to bottling.
Only large format (500L and 600L) barrels were employed to mature the wine. The focus being to retain the wonderfully expressive, pure fruit while allowing for enhanced texture. Also, no new oak was used in order for the fruit to shine.