Abrie Beeslaar’s first offering of this wine is going to make a lot of friends, in particular those who have an affinity for a well made Pinotage. Abrie is regarded as the ‘God Father’ of Pinotage in his native South Africa and his 2020 TAJ Pinotage is a beauty. Vibrant dark plum fruit jumps out of the glass and leads into a medium fuller palate that has beautiful darker red fruit to core and nicely integrated tannins that give good supporting structure. With some aeration this gains flesh and mid palate suppleness allowing the wine to take on a silky textural mouth feel. Juicy with vibrant fruit, there’s a savory note on the backend adding some extra nuance to the whole. Just now stating to open up this should drink impressively over the next 2-3 years.
TAJ Pinotage is a new project from Abrie Beeslaar – the world renowned winemaker of Kanonkop and the owner/winemaker of the premier Beeslaar Pinotage. The grapes for the TAJ are sourced from the largest Pinotage vineyard in the world, which is located in the Swartland of South Africa, and is made up of 20-year-old, unirrigated bushvines, planted in soils of decomposed shale. These bushvines are able to weather the harsh conditions of the Swartland, and create smaller, more concentrated berries.
Abrie has been the winemaker at the esteemed Kanonkop estate in Stellenbosch since 2003—Kanonkop being one of the first properties to fully realize Pinotage’s potential with multiple award-winning wines in international competitions (most famously in 1991, winning best red wine at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in London). He took over the winemaking from the ‘King of Pinotage’ and maker of the award-winning Pinotage just discussed, Beyers Truter. Abrie began producing wine under his own Beeslaar label in 2011 from a property that is ‘about two kilometres from Kanonkop in the direction of Bottelary Road’ according to the man himself.
Abrie is a truly charming and humble man, who speaks brilliantly about Pinotage and the winemaking culture in South Africa (in his equally charming Afrikaans accent). The Beeslaar Winery is a full-on family affair with his wife, Jeanne, running the books, and children Ben and Emma helping to prepare orders.