Eben Sadie started his winemaking career working for Charles Back’s Spice Route – labelled wines before breaking off on his own in 1999. Over the past decade he has acquired the reputation as the most innovative, even anarchic winemaker in South Africa
He is a great believer in blends, rather than single varietal wines, and in terroir. Sadie eschews what he regards as the obsession in South Africa to plant French varietals and instead sees Mediterranean vines as the most suited to the Swartland
region which is where he has established his winery. He is scathing of the bureaucracy within the South African wine authorities which prevent him from planting Spanish, Italian or Portuguese varietals.
Nevertheless, despite chafing against such restrictions, Sadie has carved out an enviable reputation with wines made from French grape varietals
, but it is the terroirs from which he draws his raw materials which excite him most. He thinks nothing of co-planting different varietals in the same soil, and believes that the influence of oceans, of which the Cape has two in close proximity, should lead South African winemakers to create blends for complexity rather than to rely on making single-varietal wine.
In the cellar Sadie does everything in as natural a way as possible, letting nature run its course and using gravity rather than pumps to move wine from vat to barrel to bottle. Unsurprisingly, he is not fond of the term “winemaker”!
7 vineyards and 3 different soils make up his tiny 7 hectare farm. Columella
, his red wine, named after one of the wine trade's earliest scribes, sees 24 months in oak and is racked every 6 months. Eben's white wine, Palladius
, is arguably more impressive still: a delicious blend of 60+ year-old bush vine Chenin Blanc