Spice Route Chakalaka
Spice Route Chakalaka is deep ruby red in colour. There are aromas of clove and subtle white pepper followed by plum with elegant hints of spice. On the palate it is medium bodied with red fruit and integrated oak. The excellent balance of acidity and ripe tannins, will allow this wine to age well.
The new age of the Swartland commenced in 1997 when Charles Back stumbled across an old Tobacco farm, Klein Amoskuil, with a peculiar vineyard of Sauvignon Blanc – later to be discovered as the oldest in the country – just West of his native Paarl. Bewildered by its quality in a region better known for its wheat and rolling fynbos hills, the potential was obvious, so Charles set forth to acquire the farm and study its soils and extreme climate.
Charles Back was a pioneer in the Swartland when he started Spice Route in 1998. “Without [Charles], the Swartland would still be regarded as a rural backwater” wrote Tim Atkin. Today, the region is the source of many of South Africa’s outstanding wine, yet Spice Route remains one of the best and most credible producers in the region, due largely to the fact that they own their own vineyards. Spice Route’s 100 hectares of vineyards are situated in Malmesbury and Darling. The former, all bush trained on Malmesbury shale and red clay subsoils (the clay ensures the vineyards are dry grown), give the Grenache and Mourvedre the intensity of fruit that makes this region so exciting.
Winemaker Charl du Plessis has been with Charles for 15 years, and knows the region intricately. The winemaking is ‘hands off’, as Charl is keen to capture the flavours and structure of the outstanding fruit he has grown. The signature wine is the Chakalaka, a blend of six different grape varieties. The name is derived from a spicy South African relish which is similarly a fusion of different flavours. A blend of Mourvedre, Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Petite Sirah and Tannat, it has good intensity, a Rhone-ish depth and supple tannins.
The fruit was hand-harvested and the grapes were destalked and lightly crushed. All fruit was fermented in open concrete fermenters. Manual punch downs were carried out during fermentation. The wines were racked and put in barrel for malolactic fermentation and further ageing. The components matured in seasoned French and American oak for 12 months before blending and further maturation of the final wine in the same old oak barrels.
Spice Route Chakalaka – Hay Wines
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