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 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 ensures the vineyards are 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 for 15 years, and knows the region intimately. The winemaking is ‘hands off’, as Charl is keen to capture the flavours and structure of the outstanding fruit he has grown.
De Bron was the nickname given to the town Malmesbury before British rule, as Bron is the Dutch word for a thermal water spring and the area was known for its healing hot springs and dry air. The Carignan used for this was selected from a single vineyard block planted in 2001 on Klein Amoskuil farm. This dryland bush vine block is the only block on the farm planted on Malmsbury shale soil. This vineyard has consistently produced wine that reflects a true sense of place and worthy to be part of the Terra de Bron series.
The 2014 harvest commenced one to two weeks later than normal due to late, cold winter conditions and a cooler spring. High rainfall during mid-November and January led to producers having to irrigate much less. Ideal dry, moderate conditions reigned during January through to mid-February, after which a warm period accelerated ripening. This resulted in a higher yield of remarkable quality from Swartland due to good soil moisture conditions in this mainly dryland area. These grapes were only picked late March 2014, which is recorded as one of the latest ripening vintages to date.
The grapes were hand-picked and hand-sorted before fermentation took place in two-tonne open oak fermenters (foudres) for 14 days. Manual punch-downs were applied twice daily during fermentation. After fermentation, the wine was racked off and transferred to old 225 litre French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and maturation, where it spent 19 months in barrel before bottling. The wine was released after 12 months of bottle ageing.
The Terra de Bron Swartland Carignan is layered with red fruits and backed by spicy flavour on the nose. It is medium-bodied with subtle notes of smoky and cured meat, making it an ideal food wine.
|Grape Varieties||100% Carignano/Carignan
|Winemaker||Charl du Plessis|
|Notes||Sustainable, Vegan, Vegetarian