Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fairview Pinotage & Spice Route Chakalaka

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,


Peter F May for The Pinotage Club said...

Fill your boots with Chakalaka at that price, you won't see it as cheap again.

Completely sold out at the winery, they realised they priced it way too low.

The Spice Route Pinotage is excellent.

BTW, Charles Back is a real person and has very hands on control of his wines.

Chris Bryant said...

Thanks for the positive review.
BTW, we are still recommending $20 as the retail price. Peter, you know us better than to ramp up the price because it sells out...:)
We tasted the 2009 Fairview Pinotage this week and it is already looking great. '09 is looking like being a fantastic red vintage for SA.

Richard Auffrey said...

Hi Peter!
Thanks for your comments. I have had the Spice Route Pinotage and really enjoyed it. I will be seeking out the Chakalaka as well.

Hi Chris:
Keep making excellent wines! And I look forward to tasting the 2009s.

Finance Foodie said...

Hi Richard! Great having dinner w you at Tresca! How did ur pics come out? (My pics came out really well):)

Richard Auffrey said...

Hi Athena:
Yes, it was a very enjoyable dinner and I was glad you were there. My photos came out decently, and I hope to write up the event maybe over the weekend.

Jean said...

Chakalaka sounds devine.. we cant get this here in Sydney.. I enjoy Goats do Roam Red .. totally quaffable! Anybody else enjoy G d Roam?