POA Product

Sadie Family Swartland Columella 2021

  • Signature wine. First released in 2000, Columella is Sadie’s most famous wine. While it’s regularly described as an icon of Swartland (and indeed South Africa), Eben Sadie’s goal is simply to produce the finest, most honest expression he can from Swartland as a whole. As such, the blend includes six of the seven official red grapes that grow in the region. The 2021 is a blend of one-quarter Syrah, with the remainder a blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache, Carignan, Tinta Barocca and Cinsault. Eben notes that the incremental growth of Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsault and Tinta Barocca in the final blend has contributed to the depth and complexity of tannins and that there is also more fruit purity.

    Eben also wants to capture as many Swartland soils and climates as possible. This year, the grapes came from seven soil types (including granite, slate, gravel and sandstone) across 11 separate vineyards in Paardeberg, Kasteelberg, Malmesbury and Piquetberg. Most are low-yielding, old-vine parcels, although some of the estate’s younger material also plays its part. Many of the Syrah vines have been trained to their own pole (échelas style, as per northern Rhône).

    Most of the fruit is destemmed, although an increasing percentage of whole bunches are used each year. Sadie has a sorting team of 25 who discard 8 to 15% of the fruit each year. The grapes go into a huge open fermenter for an average of three weeks on skins before being basket-pressed into primarily old French oak barrels (less than 5% new). After a year on lees, the wine is racked into seasoned oval casks (foudres) for further maturation on the fine lees. The wine is then bottled without fining or filtration.

    A quick note on the history and evolution of this wine. The wine was a predominantly Syrah blend with Mourvèdre in its first decade. Over the years, specifically since 2009, Sadie has introduced ever-increasing amounts of the other varieties. The fruit is also picked earlier, and the winemaking has progressed. Before 2009, the style was geared towards power and extraction, maximising depth of colour, flavour and tannin. Post-2009, the maceration has become progressively gentler to the point where the cap is simply kept wet, mainly via handheld jugs. The amount of new oak has also decreased radically. It is no coincidence that these changes happened around the same time that Sadie was experimenting with similar techniques at Terroir al Límit in Priorat.

    Columella is nonetheless a more powerful, complex wine than those in the Old Vine Series, with unforced intensity and a corresponding increase in texture and ripeness. We recommend decanting, and Sadie suggests a minimum of eight years in the cellar before opening. Good luck with that! The notes below tell you all about the style and brilliant quality of the 2021 release. It has the finesse, sappiness and vibrancy of great Burgundy (from a powerful year) and the depth and structure to live for decades.

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