Spice Route, `Chakalaka` Swartland, 2018 is deep ruby in colour. On the nose, aromas of clove and subtle white pepper mingle with juicy blackberry and plum fruit. Full-bodied and rich, the palate displays well-integrated oak and smooth, structured tannins. Chakalaka, a Zulu word that implies togetherness, refers to a South African blend of spices, used to add flavour to local dishes. This wine is inspired by the unique combination of flavours.
Spice Route, `Chakalaka` Swartland, 2018 is the perfect food wine. It can hold up to the intense South African flavours of slow-roasted meat, especially barbequed pork. Even Asian inspired dishes with plum sauce will add to the fruitiness in the wine.
|Grape||26% Syrah, 24% Mourvèdre, 15% Grenache, 15% Carignan, 13% Durif, 7% Tannat, Red Blend|
|Style||Dry, Red, Full Bodied, Black Fruit, Herbs and Spices, Oak, Smooth,|
|Dietary||Vegetarian, Vegan, Sustainable, Practising Organic|
About the region and producer
Charles Back was a pioneer in the Swartland when he started Spice Route in 1998 after tasting an exceptional Sauvignon Blanc and immediately buying the land on which it was grown. "Without [Charles]…the Swartland would still be regarded as a rural backwater" wrote Tim Atkin, who awarded the winery ‘Cru Bourgeois’ status in his South Africa Classification in 2019. Today, the region is the source of many of South Africa’s outstanding wines, 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 allows the vineyards to be dry grown), give the Grenache and Mourvèdre the intensity of fruit that makes this region so exciting.
Winemaker Charl du Plessis has been with Charles since 2002 and knows the region intimately. The winemaking is ‘hands-off’, as Charles is keen to capture the flavours and structure of the outstanding fruit he has grown. In fact, despite the desert-like conditions of the region, the vines are not even irrigated. 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 Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Carignan, Petite Sirah and Tannat, it has great intensity, a Rhône-style depth and supple tannins.
Swartland is a hot and dry area, although it benefits to some degree from the Atlantic Ocean’s cooling effect on its western border. Producers such as Spice Route and Thorne & Daughters specialise in producing high quality wines from varieties such as Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Rhône-inspired blends.
Vineyard and Wine Making
Chakalaka is Spice Route's signature wine. It is a blend of six different grape varieties. The varieties: Mourvèdre, Syrah, Carignan, Grenache, Petite Sirah and Tannat were selected for their suitability to the Swartland’s dry growing conditions. Fruit for this wine is sourced from dry-farmed bush vines, planted on Richter 99 rootstock, which is known for producing deep rooted vines. The region’s deep iron-rich clay and decomposed granite soils have a good water retaining capacity and produce elegant and robust red wines.
The grapes for Spice Route, `Chakalaka` Swartland, 2018 were hand harvested, destemmed and lightly crushed and then fermented in open top concrete fermenters (‘kuipe’). Manual punching down took place during fermentation. The wines were then racked off and sent to barrels for malolactic fermentation and further ageing. Each wine component for the blend was matured in seasoned French and American oak for 12 months before blending occurred.
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