Pinotage is a red wine grape varietal with its origins in South Africa. It is the result of crossing Pinot Noir with Cinsault, and created by Professor Abraham Izak Perold in 1925. This varietal combines the noble characteristics of Pinot Noir with the reliability of Cinsault. The grape is a viticultural cross of 2 varietals of Vitis vinifera, not a hybrid. It typically produces deep red wines with smoky, bramble and earthy flavours, sometimes with notes of tropical fruits, it can produce complex wines with age - but are also drinkable when young.
Abraham Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at Stellenbosch University, attempting to combine the best qualities of the robust Cinsault with Pinot Noir - a grape that makes great wine but can be difficult to grow.

 

The first recorded wine was made in 1941 at Elsenburg - with the first commercial plantings at Myrtle Grove near Sir Lowry's Pass.
The initial recognition came when a Bellevue wine made from Pinotage became the champion wine at the Cape Wine Show of 1959; this wine was also the first to mention Pinotage on its label in 1961. This early success, and its easy viticulture, started a wave of planting during the 1960's.
The vines are vigorous like their parent Cinsault and easy to grow, ripening early with high sugar levels. The grape is naturally high in tannins which can be tamed with limited maceration time but reducing the skin contact can also reduce the sort after mulberry, blackberry characters. Pinotage may be made in several different styles: young, light, and fruit driven, like Beaujolais, deep and rich like a Côtes du Rhône, or elegant and restrained like light Bordeaux. There are also 'rosé' versions and several fortified into Port-style wines, plus Pinotage can also be a component in sparkling wines.
Pinotage is grown here in New Zealand - for many years, where the relatively thick, rot-resistant skin is an added benefit in the humid north island. Israel is making Pinotage and in Canada, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Australia and selected sites in the States.