Spice Route 2013 “Chakalaka” Western Cape Red ($20.99)

Spice Route "Chakalaka"Dark reddish-purple, almost black at the core, with bright ruby glints against the light. Delicious scents of black plums, blackberries and raspberries add just a subtle hint of warm spice in the aroma. Ripe, juicy plums dominate an appetizing flavor shaped by food-friendly acidity and a significant edge of soft but perceptible tannins, with a bit of heat showing from its 14.5% alcohol. Mixed berries and a fresh, citric snap linger in a very long finish. A blend of 50% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre, 13% Petite Sirah, 8% Carignan, 8% Grenache, and 6% Tannat. U.S. importer: Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, Ala. (June 1, 2017)

FOOD MATCH: This wine would go well with just about any red-meat variation or cheese-based dishes. We went the cheese route and were very satisfied with its afflinity for creamy burrata cheese mixed with a spicy, chunky quick Italian-style tomato sauce over linguine.

WHEN TO DRINK: It’s good now, despite the tannins, but would likely reward two or three years in a good cellar; beyond that, its potential for long-term cellaring is anybody’s guess.

My $21 local retail price tag is a bit above the $18 U.S. average on Wine-Searcher.com, but it’s good enough that I’d somewhat grudgingly pay that price again.

Neither the Spice Route winery website or the website of importer Vineyard Brands offers any information about the Chakalaka red, but the winery site is an attractive destination with good photos of the winery and vineyards and information about its history and terroir.

Check prices and find vendors for Spice Route “Chakalaka” Western Cape red on Wine-Searcher.com.

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