The 9Lives team paid a visit to the Spice Route Destination in Paarl during the break from nationwide sobriety at the end of 2020. Supporting your favorite local wineries and tourist destinations might not be as easy now as it was back then. That should not stop anyone from supporting our local tourist industry, in compliance with Covid-19 security measures, of course.
For that matter, it also shouldn’t stop you from making a wine bucket list to experience once the second alcohol ban gets lifted. We took it upon ourselves to compile a list of wines definitely worth trying at Spice Route. For the time being, visitors to the destination can safely enjoy various options of restaurants (Jewell’s Restaurant was our pick), visits to chocolatiers, artisan delis that pay tribute to North-African markets, and so much more.
Exquisite dishes that are masterfully executed, scenic views, and professional service is the essence of Jewell’s Restaurant. When looking up Jewell’s Restaurant online you will come across the names, Neil and Tina Jewell. This power couple is the mastermind behind the open kitchen restaurant where sophistication meets the countryside in true winelands fashion.
The open kitchen setup ensured a cosy atmosphere upon entrance on the out-of-season gloomy day that the 9Lives team visited the destination, if the weather was any different we would probably have chosen to sit outside and enjoy the vineyard-and-mountain view.
Jewell’s Restaurant has a refined seasonal menu that consists of freshly baked bread, starters, a middle paired with side dishes and an end. The most popular dishes amongst the team was the red angus sirloin, mushroom velouté and straw potatoes, and the pearl barley risotto, lemon ricotta, zucchini & thyme. The latter being a unique variant of traditional risotto with a slightly sour twist thanks to the touch of spekboom. I personally opted for red angus sirloin, with mushroom velouté and straw potatoes and it did not disappoint.
Jewell’s Restaurant is the true jewel of the South African winelands in terms of cuisine, and should certainly be on your travel itinerary if you are visiting Paarl anytime soon.
Our wine bucket list
Spice Route Chenin Blanc 2019
The Spice Route Chenin Blanc is a rich white wine that pairs well with Parma-ham and can be purchased on the Spice Route Website at R125,00. The wine is distinguished by its bright yellow colour and hints of tropical fruit and peach on the nose. The reflection of the physical environment of the vineyard is something that the French would refer to as its Terroir, in this case, the Spice Route Chenin Blanc reflects the koffieklip soils of the Swartland.
The Amos Block Sauvignon Blanc 2019
This generous on the palate Sauvignon Blanc originates from a certified heritage vineyard block, which makes it so desirable especially if you’re a complete geek for South African wine heritage. The vineyard is the oldest existing bush vine Sauvignon Blanc in South Africa and was planted back in 1965 (this is a real achievement in my eyes seeing that I can barely keep my succulents alive for more than 2,5 seconds).
Besides its impressive origin, this Sauvignon Blanc also earned our admiration for its refreshing texture, wonderful aroma, and crisp acidity.
Saffron Rose by Spice Route
Rose has shaken its bad reputation, and if you are still on the too-good-for-Rose train you are really missing out on the good stuff. Exhibit A: this serious rose by Spice Route Wines manages to balance fresh fruity flavours with complex minerality. It is this complex palate that has earned it its various accolades over the years.
The Saffron Rose is certainly on our wine bucket list for the aftermath of this dry spell.
Spice Route Obscura Red
Another wine with a rich history. The Spice Route Obscura Red is fermented in Qvevri, (terracotta pots) that are buried in the ground for natural temperature control. This method of fermentation originated in ancient Georgia and includes natural preservatives and minimal intervention – this natural fermentation is easily noticeable on the palate.
The Spice Route Obscura red is a Shiraz and Grenache blend that has a distinguishable translucent red colour, with earthy and spicy hints on the palate.
The Chakalaka Magnum is another masterpiece by Spice Route Wines. This red blend is a truly unique wine that brings a new meaning to the word “Chakalaka”, which is a traditional South African recipe that contains a blend of spicy vegetables. Similar to this dish, the wine brings a complex palate of different flavours including plum, spices and black pepper.
The Chakalaka Magnum by Spice Route Wines is distinguishable by its ruby and purple hues and aromas of sandalwood and dark fruits.
If the ancient mariners that seasonally explored the spice route centuries ago could patiently bask in their desire for exotic flavours of wine for months on end, we can too. For now, we can support our local wine industry by securing our purchases now, and receiving it once the dry spell is over.