pinno.jpgPinot Noir has captured the hearts and tastebuds of all of us. The soft velvet texture, the bright raspberry fruit, a touch of earthy notes – it’s pretty much perfection. Some may ask, how could you ever improve on Pinot? Perhaps the answer is you can’t, but South Africa has found a way to kick it up a notch. (We promise, no more Emeril references).

Pinotage is a grape that is made by crossing the Pinot Noir and Cinsaut grapes. This hybrid was first created in South Africa by Chemist Abraham Perold, who wanted to create a grape that had the finesse and elegance of the Pinot Noir grape but would survive in the harsher South African climate. The result is a wine that is unique, seductive and vibrant.

Pinotage is a little more forceful than Pinot Noir with a bolder aroma that is a combination of raspberry, banana and meaty, spicy notes. The first sip is alluring and unexpected – not as aggressive as you would expect from the scent. The texture is soft and smooth and unfolds to reveal tart raspberry and black cherry notes with a spicy finish.

If you haven’t tried Pinotage yet, Gothamist suggests you try the 2004 Graham Beck Pinno from the Western Cape of South Africa. At just $8.99 a bottle it’s approachable, distinctive with a little bite – we like to think of it as Pinot Noir with a Brooklyn edge.