Spice Route Chakalaka 2010
Other Red Blends from South Africa
Intense red-purple in the glass. Initial smoky cloves and savory notes give way to a plum and black cherry nose with hints of sweet oak spice. Medium bodied with well-integrated oak and fruit, this wine has a smooth tannin structure and lingering spice flavors.
Blend: 37% Syrah, 25% Mourvedre, 13% Carignan, 10% Tannat, 8% Grenache, 7% Petit Sirah
Wine Spectator - "Solid, featuring dark plum, currant and blackberry fruit melded with a roasted apple wood note. A sanguine edge fills in the finish, exhibiting enough length and depth for modest cellaring. A terrific value. Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan, Tannat, Grenache and Petite Sirah."
The Wine Advocate - "The 2010 Spice Route Chakalaka, from Swartland, Oakleaf and Koffieklip, is a serious Rhone Ranger blend of 30% Syrah, 25% Mourvedre, 13% Carignan, 8% Grenache and the rest Petite Sirah and Tannat aged 14 months in a combination of French and American oak (14.5% natural alcohol). This intriguing red is loaded with white chocolate, coffee bean, black currant, kirsch, licorice and Provencal herb characteristics as well as a slight touch of vanillin (from the oak aging). It is a beautifully fruit-driven, medium to full-bodied, South African powerhouse to drink over the next 5-6 years."
Spice Route Winery
Five centuries ago the ancient mariners braved uncharted seas to round the Cape in search of exotic spices. Their nerve and dash inspired Charles Back to found the Spice Route Winery in 1997. Charles had bought the farm Klein Amoskuil, and this Malmesbury based farm is now home to Spice Route's Swartland terroir styled wines. The Spice Route Winery has found its signature wine style in the warm rolling hills along the Cape West Coast. Matching traditional practices in the vineyards with modern, minimalist approaches in the cellar, they produce exceptionally ripe and deep-flavoured wines. The deep red soils sustain unirrigated bush vine through the long warm summers. These harsh conditions are tempered by cool Atlantic breezes rolling in overnight. In its few years since inception had a stratospheric climb into the top echelons of the South African wine industry. View all Spice Route Wines
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A long history of growing grapes and making wine, but less of a history on exporting it, and even lesser on the quality aspect. At the turn of the century (1900, that is), a surplus of wine in South Africa created a hierarchy of cooperatives, the biggest and best known being KWV. This organization seemed to favor quantity over quality and had most control over wines and vineyards until the late 1980's. Now, with a bit more competition, quality is coming around. Yet, South African wine was not even seen in American wine stores until the mid-1990's – the trade embargo on the country for their racial apartheid laws kept South African wine out of the US. When apartheid fell, so did the embargo, and SA bottles began showing up on US shelves.
White wine has always been the cash crop of South Africa, with much of it distilled to make brandy. More white than red is planted, much of it the Steen variety – known elsewhere in the world as Chenin Blanc. Good producers are making top quality dry wines from this grape. Another grape gaining some raves is Sauvignon Blanc, producing whites that are dry and crisp, yet rounder than many of its Southern Hemisphere counterparts. For reds, the top grapes are Syrah/Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon (& blends) and Pinotage. Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends was once the favorite and most-produced, but Shiraz is taking over as wineries crank out high quality wines from the variety. Pinotage, which used to be a grape only your mother could love, has improved dramatically and is often as delicious as it is distinctive. The most popular regions of the country include Stellenbosch and Paarl.
About South AfricaRelated Links:
Notable FactsWhite wine has always been the cash crop of South Africa, with much of it distilled to make brandy. More white than red is planted, the majority of it is Steen – known elsewhere in the world as Chenin Blanc. Good producers are making top quality dry wines from this grape. Another grape the critics rave aboutSauvignon Blanc, producing whites that are dry and crisp, yet rounder than many of its Southern Hemisphere counterparts. For reds, the top grapes are Syrah/Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon (& blends) and Pinotage. Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends were once the favorite and most-produced, but Shiraz is taking over as wineries crank out high quality wines from the variety. Pinotage, a man-made crossing between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, has improved dramatically and is often as delicious as it is distinctive. In describing red wines in South Africa, smoky and meaty are two terms that are common. Regionally, the most popular wine-making areas include Stellenbosch and Paarl.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
- Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
- Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
- Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
- Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.