Spice Route Wines – I talk to Charl du Plessis, Winemaker…

Charl du Plessis, winemaker of Spice Route Wines

I said recently in a piece that I wrote, I would happily drink any wine from Spice Route, just friendly wines and perfect food partners.

Charl du Plessis has been winemaker for Spice Route for the past 15 years.  I wanted to get to know him better.

Where were you born?
I was born Mossel Bay – Southern Cape.

What was the defining moment in your life which set you on the path of becoming a winemaker?
To be very honest – when I saw the cellar technology students with stained shirts and dirty hands at the Elsenburg cellar, I decide this is what I want to do.

Charl du Plessis with assistant winemaker Licia Solomons

Where did you train to become a winemaker?
I studied at Elsenburg from 1989 to 1991.

Who would you regard as your mentor?
Since I have been making wine from 1992, I have worked under a few mentors and winemakers, but after 15 years of working with Charles Back, he is definitely the biggest influence of my winemaking career.  Apart from a very good entrepreneur and business man, he is also an exceptional winemaker, only a few people would know that.

Charles Back, Owner of Spice Route with Charl du Plessis

You work with a selection of some of the world’s most noble grape varieties. Is there one other variety with which you would really like to work?
Pinot Noir.

If you could choose anywhere in the world to make wine other than where you are now, where would it be?
South of France, good wine, good food, humble people and good cycling… viva La Tour!!

Spice Route Grenache 2014

I know it is a bit tricky asking a father to choose his favourite child, but which one of your wines is your current favourite?
The Spice Route Grenache Noir

Your greatest bottle of wine ever?
The 1978 Chevrey Chambertin

Do you enjoy cooking?
I like cooking, but I’m an obvious South African, I will braai every day.

If yes what do you enjoying cooking most?
It takes time and it is very tiring, but enjoy spearfishing some Galjoen, catching crayfish and the odd Perlemoen

[if nobody is watching] and then I will cook it the same day for people.

Your best style of restaurant you enjoy visiting?
Japanese first and then good fresh seafood.

Your ideal dinner guest?
Number 1 would be Nelson Mandela, next would be our current Mr Zuma [I would like to whisper something in his ear and then he would be excused]  Just a one on one with Mandela would be great…

Onrus on the Overberg Coast

Your favourite holiday destination?
Onrus near Hermanus, it’s got the whole package – diving, wine, mountain biking and good family time.

What is on your bedside table as reading matter at the moment?
I only read books on a plane while I’m travelling, I read the daily newspapers.

Whose music would you take with you to a desert island?
Cat Stevens

The perfect gin & tonic
photograph by Sam Linsell

Guilty Pleasures?
A good gin and tonic, and there are a number of good ones these days.

How can a visitor contact your winery?
Telephone: 021 863 5200
Email: info@spiceroute.co.za
Website: www.spiceroutewines.co.za

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