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2012 The Sadie Family Eben Sadie Columella, Swartland
Scores and Reviews
Eben Sadie started his winemaking career working for Charles Back’s Spice Route-labelled wines before breaking out on his own in 1999. Over the past decade he has acquired the reputation as the most innovative and inspired winemaker in South Africa.
He is a great believer in blends, rather than single varietal wines, and in terroir. Columella (Syrah and Mourvèdre) is one of South Africa's very best wines, if not the best, named after one of the wine trade's earliest scribes. It sees 24 months in oak and is racked every six months.
Eben's white wine, Palladius, is arguably more impressive still; it is a delicious blend of 60-plus year-old bush vine Chenin Blanc and Viognier. These are incredible wines from a winemaker at the top of his game.
A noble black grape variety grown particularly in the Northern Rhône where it produces the great red wines of Hermitage, Cote Rôtie and Cornas, and in Australia where it produces wines of startling depth and intensity. Reasonably low yields are a crucial factor for quality as is picking at optimum ripeness. Its heartland, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, consists of 270 hectares of steeply terraced vineyards producing wines that brim with pepper, spices, tar and black treacle when young. After 5-10 years they become smooth and velvety with pronounced fruit characteristics of damsons, raspberries, blackcurrants and loganberries.
It is now grown extensively in the Southern Rhône where it is blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to produce the great red wines of Châteauneuf du Pape and Gigondas amongst others. Its spiritual home in Australia is the Barossa Valley, where there are plantings dating as far back as 1860. Australian Shiraz tends to be sweeter than its Northern Rhône counterpart and the best examples are redolent of new leather, dark chocolate, liquorice, and prunes and display a blackcurrant lusciousness.
South African producers such as Eben Sadie are now producing world- class Shiraz wines that represent astonishing value for money.
After Stellenbosch, t, the west coast district of Swartland (25 miles due north of Cape Town, between the towns of Malmesbury and Piketberg) now ranks as the Cape's most exciting wine-producing district.Settled initially by nomadic Khoikhoi from Namibia, the Dutch brought trade, vines and unrest to the region in the 17th century.
The British then transformed the area into the Cape's bread basket, viticulture being developed only more recently. This contrasts with an ancient geology which has brought a mix of shale, arenite sandstone and granite soils air-conditioned by the Atlantic Ocean nearby.