While perusing the tables at the Boston Wine Expo, I stopped to taste several South African wines. I really enjoy many of their wines, from their Chenin Blanc to Pinotage. One of the most consistent producers is Charles Back, which makes several well-known brands, including Goats do Roam, Fairview and Spice Route. These wines often offer good value and plenty of taste. You can do a search for some of my prior reviews of their wines. Now, I will review two more wines from their portfolio.
The 2008 Fairview Pinotage (about $12) is made from 100% Pinotage, spent about 10 months in used French and American oak, and has an alcohol content of 14.65%. It was a deep red, almost black, color with an enticing smell of blackfruits and spice. On the palate, there was plenty of lush fruit upfront, ripe plum and blackberry, with a very spicy finish. The tannins were moderate and there were hints of exotic in the flavor. I enjoy Pinotage and thought this wine was an excellent value for the low price.
The 2008 Spice Route Chakalaka (about $18.99) is a blend of seven red grapes, including Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvedre, Carignan, Tannat, Petite Sirah and Souzão (a Portuguese grape used to make Port). I just love the name and the term "chakalaka" actually refers to a spicy South African relish, reflecting the fusion of flavors of all the different grapes. This is like a ramped up Rhone wine, with an air of the exotic.
It is fairly dark in color with an intriguing nose of black cherry, spice and a hint of vanilla. The taste is very interesting and delicious, with a harmonius blend of ripe plum, black cherry, vanilla, spice and hints of smoke. The tannins are moderate, but the wine is very balanced and the lengthy finish is very satisfying. It seems more lush than many Rhone wines, and has hints of flavors you don't often taste in Rhone wines. A very compelling wine and also a good value at under $20,