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.
Learn More About Pinotage
South Africa Creation
Pinotage is all South
Africa. A crossing between Pinot
Noir and Cinsaut in the early 1900's created this national variety and the
South Africans have worked for decades to tame the grape. Luckily, winemakers discovered
how to turn this variety into high-quality wine and their results are delicious.
Pinotage is a hardy, rustic grape, with gamey and smoky mixing with wild berry
flavors. The styles of wine can differ, depending on the winemaker's choices
of fermentation temperature and oak. Almost always a deep, dark color, it can
be an easy-drinking wine with upfront wild berry flavors, or it can lean towards
smoky, musty undertones with firmer tannins. Both styles are quite good - particularly
paired with some tasty barbeque. Get to know the producer to find out which
style you prefer.
Summing it up Successful Sites: South Africa
Common Descriptors: smoky, wild berry, gamey
Learn More About South Africa
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.