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I am getting increasingly excited about the huge strides that South African winemakers have been making, and will soon be publishing a collection of tasting notes on a wide range of cutting-edge Cape wines. Perhaps I should say more precisely how exciting it is that there is a completely new wave of accomplished young South African wine producers. (See also Julia's 2013 article on South Africa's next generation.)
One of them, not included in those featured in my forthcoming tasting article, is David Sadie of the Swartland. He labours under the slight inconvenience of sharing a surname with the most famous new-wave independent South African wine producer of all, Eben Sadie, also based in the Swartland, although they are not in fact related. For this reason he sells his wines under the simple name David. (It seems extraordinary that the name is not already taken, does it not?) But in fact he follows an almost identical path to that of the more famous Eben, seeking out particularly old vines in Swartland and hand crafting wines in rented cellar space with minimal intervention other than from his wife Nadia, a soil scientist .
They met as students at the University of Stellenbosch. She works part-time for an environmental company and spends the rest of her time with the family wine project. David reports, 'she is focused on our wines, our business and our future winemaker, our son Wilhelm of 15 months old. Since our son's birth she is obviously less active in the vineyards and cellar, but helps me with all harvest and winemaking decisions, strategic planning, our vineyard portfolio consisting of 26 different vineyards we are buying from throughout the Swartland, mainly dry-land vineyards. I resigned from my full-time day job last year and focus only on our own project. Timing has never been better and although this is by far the hardest way forward, we know that it is worth every step as we know it could not be any other way...hence the name of our red blend, Elpidios, to have an expectation.'
The only David Sadie wine I have tasted is this quite exceptional 2012 Grenache made from an organic vineyard on the granite soils of the Paardeberg in the Swartland. A grand total of two barrels were produced in 2012 although production grew last year when he was able to add the produce of another vineyard and he now has a third in his sights, apparently. He employs some cold soak, a certain portion of whole bunches in the fermentation vat, with ambient yeast, daily punchdowns of the cap, a month's maceration, and the wine is aged for almost a year in total in used 300-litre French oak barrels and bottle. No enzymes, no acidification. It's bottled unfined and unfiltered and the result is a truly refreshing wine chock full of flavour and obviously very terroir-influenced but only 13.5%, a remarkably low strength for fully ripe Grenache. I found it much drier than most Grenache, beautifully balanced and even rather delicate. It made a great partner to a meal and my only very slight criticism is that it did not evolve much in the glass, but I suppose if it ain't broke…
David and Nadia Sadie's wines are imported into the UK and Hong Kong by www.vincisive.co.uk. Retailers in the UK are www.sawinesonline.co.uk and Edgmond Wines, while Wine Goo Roo retail them in Hong Kong. They are also available in Switzerland, Mauritius, the Seychelles and the Maldives, apparently, and Sadie reports that he is working on representation in the US and Australia for his 2013s. The following South African outlets also sell them.
Wine Cellar RSA
The Vineyard Connection
Caroline's Fine Wine
Wine & Company
Meander Fine Wines
Wade Bales Wine Society, the Cellar
Het Wijnwinkeltie @ Schoon de Companje
Publiek wine bar
Winefolk wine shop