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barista-wineWe all talk about how wine tastes; ripe cherry and red fruit, hints of chocolate and mint, tobacco and leather for reds.  And for whites, citrus, honeysuckle, tropical fruit, and even cat pee!

But mocha or java?

At the historic wine estate Val de Vie which has produced wines since 1825 on the Berg River in the Western Cape in South Africa, no one is hinting or alluding; they call things by their name and labeled their 2009 Pinotage Barista because of the wine’s intense, rich coffee and chocolate aromas.  The term ‘barista’ comes from Italian and refers to a person trained in the art of making fine espresso drinks with fancy designs from the froth of milk,  a professional with a comprehensive understanding of coffee and coffee blending.    

The man behind it, Managing Director at Val de Vie Wines Bertus Fourie, a.k.a. ‘Starbucks’, says that the Barista Pinotage 2009 is the top ‘coffee pinotage’ he has yet produced: “Ever since I first stumbled across this ferment in 2001, with its distinct coffee and chocolate aromas and flavors, I have been improving this unique style of wine. The Barista Pinotage 2009 is undoubtedly my best ‘coffee pinotage’ to date and I can see this wine improving even more.”

Barista Pinotage 2009 is made in the Robertson Winery from 100% Pinotage grapes from the Robertson district where the vines grown in dark, deep-red soils - usually Glenrosa and Oakleaf - yield the best grapes for this style of wine.

But where do the coffee aromas come from? According to Bertus, “This is the magic and the mystery. What we do know for certain is they are a combination of a specific yeast strain, specific toasting, specific oak type and of course, pinotage grapes… only pinotage grapes produce these coffee flavors.”

Val de Vie Pinotage 2009, South Africa, $14.99 The dark red, full-bodied  wine has intense, rich coffee and chocolate aromas with ripe nuances of red berries, the pleasant tartness of plum skin with a touch of cranberry and pomegranate (some say also Maraschino cherries); it has ripe luscious tannins and it is  food friendly. It pairs well with meats: lamb, pork and game, is deliciouis with cheeses, fruit and desserts such as Bertus’s favorite dessert; a blue cheese filled brandy snap with Belgian chocolate and roasted  coffee beans.   Like many South African wines, the bottle comes with a screwcap.