Shrouded with rain clouds, the landscape in Mauritius looked like a painting. The kind you could touch or feel, and perhaps even step into (read about my Mauritius trip here). And so I did. In the shadows of gentle slopes and green fields, the quaint structure of Takamaka Winery stood proud.
The Takamaka Boutique Winery is not your usual deal; they offer no vineyards tours, fancy chateaus or extravagant, over-the-top tastings. Their wine, made exclusively with lychees grown in Mauritius, is a dedicated process, something to have fun with. The whole experience of the winery is youthful. A novice or an expert, everyone is bound to like something.
While Mauritius struggled with making a good grape wine, Alexander Oxenham was keen to think outside the box. The winemaker’s sole dedication to making only lychee wine gave birth to Takamaka Winery.
From a vantage point on the top floor, I could see the large thermo-regulated tanks that decorated the lower floor. We are joined by Alexander, who is as charming as the wine he pours his soul in. He takes us through the process easily, talking about the luscious lychee that is more suited to Mauritius’s climate than any grapes. Grown in orchards, the fruits are picked from the most fertile of soils, nourished with nutrients and filled with plenty of juice.
The harvested fruits go through multiple rounds of screening, first at the orchards and then handpicked on the sorting table. Each fruit is peeled by hand and flown into the thermo-regulated tanks with yeast strains for alcoholic fermentation.
The wines produced are made with environmental caution. The quantity is never excessive, and quality is the key. Even the vats (the containers) are washed with rainwater, and the wastewater and solids are then used to fertilise the soil.
No sooner than the tour of the winery is done, Alexander walks us to The Bistrot, where he takes his rightful position next to the barrels of wine and some bottled selections for us to sample. Takamaka produces only five kinds of wine. No reds come from lychee, of course. We start our tasting with Aquarel, an off-dry with notes of tropical fruits and citrus. Eclipse is a sweeter white, that smells of white flowers and peaches. Icône is sweeter still like candied fruits and flavours were quite overwhelming.
Personally, I preferred their only rosé on the portfolio, Apérichy. This salmon-coloured drink was not overly sweet, perfectly balanced and tasted of cherries and strawberries. The subtle notes of this wine don’t untangle as easily.
I am reminded of its rich taste and feel, even as our tour and tasting ended. So much so, that I walked back in and came out with a bottle of my own. A beautiful souvenir from an even more beautiful country.