Spice Route, Swartland Chenin Blanc is bright yellow in colour. The wine boasts aromas of peach, tropical fruits and subtle flinty hints on the nose. The palate is rich and broad, but with a vibrant acidity which carries the flavours onto the lingering finish.
Spice Route, Swartland Chenin Blanc will pair well with rich crab, lobster, prawn and shrimp dishes also with a range of lightly spiced dishes.
|Style||Dry, White, Full Bodied, Tropical and Stone Fruit, Minerality, Herbs, Complex|
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
Spice Route, Swartland Chenin Blanc is from a vineyard planted in 1978 in the Swartland. The trellised vineyards are planted on a south-east facing slope and are dry farmed, yielding small thick-skinned berries. The soils are predominantly koffieklip (decomposed granite and iron-rich clay) producing rich and concentrated wines.
The grapes for Spice Route, Swartland Chenin Blanc were picked at different maturity levels. The first picking was done slightly earlier to retain freshness and acidity, the second lot was picked in mid-February, with some slightly raisined grapes in the bunches bringing more richness to the blend. The lots were vinified separately. Upon arrival at the winery, the grapes were gently destemmed and pressed. After 48 hours settling, the portion that was picked earlier was fermented in stainless-steel tanks to preserve freshness and elegance before then being matured in matured in clay pots known as Qvevries for eight weeks. The late-picked portion was fermented and matured in old French oak barrels for 10 months, before the two components were blended and bottled.
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