In what might well turn out to be one of the most innovative wine functions of 2014, Heike Raath, Diani Smit and Bridget Back of Hatch Communications pulled off a coup yesterday with the launch of three new Spice Route Wines under the Terra de Bron Label. Terra de Bron is an early Dutch nickname for Malmesbury, the Bron or Spring being a source of water.
In the invitation we were asked to give our shoe size, which immediately led to all sorts of wondering as to what this footwear might be. Turned out to be a very smart pair of Black Wellies for us to tramp about the Tower Block Vineyards. This was our first stop in a comfortable bus with Tista Cristini. Spice Route Brand Manager as our host.
The Tower Block looks out onto the Atlantic Ocean, some 5 kms away. There was quite a stiff breeze blowing, and it was a chilly one, straight off the Benguela current. There was Sauvignon Blanc from the vineyards in which we were standing and little biltong and dried sausage snacks. And a pretty impressive pile of large granite rocks. Also a Shiraz vineyard and a recent purchase The Tullie Farm.
We then drove to Klein Amoskuil, just south of Malmesbury, a farm which Charles Back, owner of Spice Route, bought in the early 1990s. We drove through the vineyards and I found it so interesting the way the soils changed from Oakleaf to Koffieklip, to Malmesbury Shale and the dull and uninteresting Decomposed Granite on which no vineyard will be planted. We looked up to the Amos Block, the oldest Sauvignon Blanc vineyard in the country, the Weathergirl Clone grafted onto the old standby rootstock, Richter 99. We drank wine from grapes harvested from this vineyard earlier this year, the Spice Route, Amos Block Sauvignon Blanc 2014, poured by Licia Solomons, assistant Winemaker, working alongside Charl since 2005. Licia has done a vintage in Burgundy and came after working in the vineyards in Darling – an impressive lady. Charles Back gave us a potted history of Spice Route with much bantering between him and the passionate Charl du Plessis, winemaker of Spice Route.
The reason for the occasion was the launch of three new Spice Route Terra de Bron Wines, the Syrah 2009, the Syrah 2012 and the Mourvèdre 2012.
The Spice Route Terra de Bron Syrah 2012 was grown in Darling under the coolest of conditions. Bigger bunches with thinner skins, producing a wine of true elegance with whiffs of violets and delicate red and black berry fruits.
The Spice Route Terra de Bron Syrah 2009, grown on the iron heavy Koffieklip soil on Klein Amoskuil, is richly coloured, packed with red and black berry fruit and ripe bloodplums and a grind of white pepper. Beautiful tannins too which will help to age the wine gracefully.
My star wine of the day was the Spice Route Terra de Bron Mourvèdre 2012. Grown as bush vines, the wine was matured in previously filled French oak barrels, allowing the fruit to perform, resulting in a wine of elegance and delicacy. Roadside brambles, mulberries and cherries with a touch of scrunched up fynbos herbs and a charcuterie undertow.
We lunched under the trees at Klein Amoskuil with Stefan Olivier of The Chef’s Bench, an epicure food truck, providing the most delicious small plates. No relative, though I think I will lay claim to him. Sunday lunch at home would be so much easier.
All in all, an extremely happy day, made more so by lovely company and some truly great wines.
Read more about Spice Route – click here
Read about The Chef’s Bench – click here