The pursuit of iconicity

There are wines that even the most avid drinkers can only dream of. Wines that have no limit as to how much a bottle can cost. They provoke emotion and wonder in those that drink them and express truths intended by their makers. They are wines that stop time.

People buy fine wines for different reasons. There are those who buy them to drink at home, appreciating a moment of pure private luxury. Some buy fine wines as investments, treating them as diverse assets in their wealth portfolio based on their premium nature, explains Derek Kilpin of fine wine specialists Great Domaines. Yet others understand the pedigree, rarity and history of fine wines, and buy them as collectibles to be stored away until the special occasion presents itself and they can offer the perfect wine to their friends or business partners as signs of wealth and social capital. They understand that fine wines are worth talking about.

Grand Pinotage is a case made for collectors. These are six of South Africa’s emblematic Pinotages, made up of the country’s most celebrated producers: Beyerskloof, Kaapzicht, Kanonkop, L’Avenir, Rijk’s and Simonsig. “Grand Pinotage makes wine enthusiasts sit up and listen,” says Abrie Beeslaar of Kanonkop.

Not only will Grand Pinotage be breaking new ground for the category, but the South African wine industry as a whole, as at a retail price of R9000 per case with only 500 cases produced per vintage, Grand Pinotage has firmly embedded itself into the fine wine market which has seen steady global growth over recent years. “The South African wines making up the luxury end of the market have some way to go in terms of their broader acceptance on the world stage,” says Kilpin, explaining how the majority of authentic fine wines from around the globe have reached a point of luxury over a generally long period of time whilst establishing a proven pedigree of quality and more often than not, longevity. “Price points need to be worked for and for luxury to work long-term the wines need to tell an authentic, qualitative story that can be revisited in the glass with confidence many years down the line,” he adds.

Yet, in a recent XChateau podcast, Executive Director of ARENI Global Pauline Vicard expressed that fine wine consumers are on the lookout for diversity: “People are going to be experimenting more and more,” meaning that fine wine can come from every part of the world, paving the way for South Africa’s rise in the global luxury wine arena.

Unlike other luxury wines in their first vintage, Grand Pinotage producers have already proven their quality track record over time. Yet, with limited cases available, Grand Pinotage doesn’t have the volume for global visibility or to make a significant impact in markets around the world. Instead, the aim of the project is to serve as a benchmark, inspiring others to create high volume quality brands that will graduate the category of Pinotage into a global perception excellence.

Showing classic balance and intensity with a spectrum of site-specific profiles, Pinotage has a renowned ability to age, enabling it to stand up to great wines globally. Pinotage’s intrinsic character and complexity expressed at every stage of development allows for its rise to iconic status. “We need to show the world that South Africa also has an icon that can compete with the top wines in the world,” says Beyers Truter of Beyerskloof.

Ultimately, fine wines are more than just a price tag coupled with high critic ratings. They are cultural products, reflective of the places they come from and the taste memory they embody that hold an emotional resonance. They are woven into the history and culture of a wine area, such as South Africa. The ultimate pleasure that collectors seek when buying wines they had once dreamed of is to connect with that authenticity and be transported to a different time and place. Fine wine is ultimately about the experience, allowing collectors to express who they are.

Grand Pinotage is a story of renaissance – from forgotten to villainised to pursuing iconicity. It is also a story of prescience – original thinking that alters perceptions. These stories are something fine wine collectors will undoubtedly recognise and salute.



Article by Jonathan Steyn and Raphaela van Embden