Fair Trade, of course, has the goal of improving the wages and working conditions of the farmers and workers in the developing world. In 2007, Charles Back (the famed owner of Fairview and Goats do Roam) helped the Citrusdale Wines cooperative restructure itself into a partnership that includes a number of Fair Trade wine farmers. [Citrusdale is a small agricultural town famous for its citrus fruits and located about 170 km from Cape Town.] The first released vintage of this partnership was 2009. Funds generated from the Fair Trade levy go directly into the community and benefit the farm workers. More on Fair Trade at Citrusdale can be found on their website.
Fair Trade is one reason to give the Six Hat wines of Citrusdale a try, but an even better reason is the remarkable value these wines offer. Citrusdale’s mission is to produce good quality wines at affordable prices. In 2009 it released its signature Six Hats range of wines. The Six Hats line consists of six different single varietal wines, all priced in the US at $9.99/bottle. Citrusdale also makes “own-label” wines for international distribution, including the UK’s Sainsbury’s.
Our tasting notes follow. In general, we find these wines to be exceptional values, reflecting the care the Citrusdale partners exercise in the vineyard. Surprisingly, almost all the grapes for these wines are hand-picked and done so early in the morning while the fruit is cool. Wines in this price range can’t be produced using expensive, new French oak, so oak staves are judiciously used in some instances instead. We find the oak flavoring they impart to be well-integrated on the palate.
Tasting Notes and Ratings
Citrusdale Winery 2010 Six Hats Chardonnay Western Cape ($10) 88+
The Six Hats Chardonnay is fresh, showing orchard fruit, honeycomb, and bread dough in a well-balanced wine. The palate is creamy with lees and ripe melon notes, finishing medium long. This isn’t a very complicated wine, but it’s well made with bright citric acidity that livens the palate. Grapes are sourced from the Piekenierskloof region. They’re hand picked, and yields are low (6 tons/hectare) for a wine in this price range. The vines are 12 years old and planted on loam and gravel soils. An amazing wine for the price.
Citrusdale Winery 2009 Six Hats Viognier Western Cape ($10) 87
The Six Hats Viognier has that real perfumed Viognier nose of light peach and lavender. Its palate is more reserved and softly textured, finishing with floral notes. Made from machine harvested Swartland fruit grown on koffieklip and oakleaf soils.
Citrusdale Winery 2009 Six Hats Pinotage Western Cape ($10) 87+
The Six Hats Pinotage is a light to medium weight fresh, red wine showing red plum and black peppercorns with a note of earthy rusticity. It’s fresh on the palate with flavors of ripe plum and a light iron earth accent, finishing on a flavorful note. A great everyday kind of wine that doesn’t require a fancy dinner to open. Made from 16 year old vines grown on sandstone soils and aged 6 months using oak staves.
Citrusdale Winery 2010 Six Hats Sauvignon Blanc Western Cape ($10) 87
This is a quite light, crisp and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc showing citrus aromas and flavors with lime zest and kiwi. It has a light, simple but pleasant tasting palate with modest fruit and a nice chalky finish. Made from 18 year old vines grown on sandy loam soils. Produced using only free run juice.
Citrusdale Winery 2009 Six Hats Shiraz Western Cape ($10) 89
The Six Hats Shiraz has a spicy nose of cracked peppercorns and dark red cherry and plum. It’s soft and lush in the mouth with gobs of straightforward fresh dark red fruit with a light tobacco note, finishing long with ripe tannins. Made from fruit grown in the Piekenierskloof region. A great wine to accompany grilled sausage or pepperoni pizza. This wine is a real crowd pleaser, and a bargain to boot.
Citrusdale Winery 2010 Six Hats Cabernet Sauvignon Western Cape ($10) 87
This medium dark red Cabernet Sauvignon shows cedar, cassis, and earth on the nose. It’s soft and flavorful on the attack with a medium weight palate revealing mostly red fruit and earth. There are dry tannins on the finish, as one might expect in a Cabernet this young. Made from low yielding vineyards (< 6 tons/hectare) and matured 6 months using oak staves. This is an easy drinking wine that would go well with many lighter meat dishesi