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Spice Route, Swartland Chenin Blanc 2019 (1x75cl)

Country: South Africa
Region: Swartland
Grape Variety: Chenin Blanc
Bottle Size: 75cl
ABV: 13.5%
Product Code: SASW0025B19S
Delivery: Not Available
Your price: £14.22

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter ( in their June 2021 edition expert's choice of South African old-vine Chenin Blanc (see blue link below for the review). 

Spice Route, Swartland Chenin Blanc 2019 - June 2021 Decanter review

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.

This 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 2019 harvest was particularly challenging. Recent drought years, coupled with a few exceptionally warm and windy days at the end of October severely affected yields. White wine yields were down approximately 25% on normal, however the fruit displayed good concentration of flavours and refreshing, natural acidity.

The Chenin Blanc for this wine was 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.

Chenin Blanc 100%.

Bright yellow in colour. This 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.