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04 Feb 2024 | Jessica Martinez


You will forever hear me drone on and on about how much I love Chenin Blanc and these wines have a lot to do with that. This love affair came from getting to experience wines from South Africa and getting to run what is probably my favorite section of my department. There is an electricity and wildness to these wines that prove to me time and time again how special they can be. One wine in particular, the Skerpioen by Sadie family wines is what ignited my fire for Chenin Blanc. Sadie Family wines for me have always been the unicorn of my department they are highly allocated, on the expensive side of things and always a little mysterious. Eben Sadie, is one of the greatest visionaries in the new generation of South Africa winemakers. He is outspoken about his obsession with terroir and making sure the Swartland area of winemaking is on the map as a place to make coveted wines. He doesn’t make every style of wine and his production is seemingly small but my oh my are these wines mighty. 

He works with old bush vines and unique terroirs and makes sure his wines are ready for aging. Sadie wines are not for the pop and drink crowd, these wines take patience both in the vineyard and from consumers not to open them too early. Eben works with 53 different parcels of vines, 12 hectares planted with experimental plots using wild varieties. His parcels are planted to 5 different soil types: Granite, slate, sandstone & quartz, chalky soils and clay soils. He has Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault, Tinta Barocca, Chenin Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Clairette blanc, Viognier, Verdelho, Marsanne, Roussanne, Semillon, Semillon Gris, and Palomino to name a few. These wines are highly allocated and I only received 3 bottles of each wines. 

Sadie Family Wines 2022 Pofadder Cinsalut: $99.99

Poffader which is a Cinsault also known as Hermityk in South Africa. Cinsault in the late 19th century played a major role in great red blends. Cinsault has proven to be tricky to produce because for such large berries that give off tons of bright fruit there is also an intense tannin character that the skins introduce to the structure of the wine. These grapes come from the Riebeeksriver region of the SWARTLAND. The iron rich slate soils vineyards are home to many poisonous vipers known as Puff Adders which is where they derived the name for the wine. After the grapes are hand picked the wine is fermented 50% Whole cluster and undergoes a natural fermentation no matter how long it takes. Old wood casks that do not impart any wood flavors house the wine for 11 months then it is put into concrete tankers to settle the sediment before bottling. The 2022 Pofadder displayed delicate red fruit with a great purity and linear qualities. There are soft spices and earthy aromas on the outer edges suggesting greater complexity with age. A warm 2022 vintage has left the wine with smooth tannins and softer acidity.  

Sadie Family Wines 2022 Skerpioen $99.99

Skerpioen was the first wine from Sadie wines I ever had the pleasure of tasting. This was the wine that peaked my interest in Chenin Blanc and has continued to be a source of excitement for me. Made from Steen (Chenin Blanc) and Vaalblaar (Palamino) this wine hails from the St. Helena Bay in the Swartland region (coolest part of the Swartland region). These limestone rich soils are home to different creepy crawly Scorpions! Eben seems to have a thing for vineyards that have deadly creatures crawling around. The grapes are picked and cooled down to avoid fermentation getting a jump start before the wine is moved into two old fouders for fermentation for about 1-6 months (never know how long it will take.) The wine is left in cask on the fermentation lees for the first 12 months and is bottled from the lees. After in bottle the wine developed aromatics with volumes of fruit and limey, citrus, and chamomile flowers. Distinctive saline qualities, salty taste and minerality are at the forefront of the palate. If you want an elevated oyster night this is the wine just for that. 

Sadie Family 2022 Skurfberg Chenin Blanc $99.99 

Coming from the Citrusdal Mountain, the rugged terrain is made up of decomposing Table Mountain sandstone (sandy soils). He treats many of his white and red wines similarly. Like the Skerpioen this wine is held in a cooling room before it is transferred to two old founders white it is left undisturbed until the natural fermentation starts. After fermentation completes the wine is left in cask for 12 months and is bottled directly from its lees.  Skurfberg means Rugged mountain and mainly refers to the edgy and rough appearance of the mountain. The 2022 displays aromas of Granny Smith apple, pear skin, and lanolin the viscosity of aromas and depth in incredible and all of these fantastic aromas meet up with firm tannins and acidity that keeps the wine balance and under tension, The deeper mineral aspects often associated with Chenin Blanc has been part of the expression of the Skurfberg vineyards from the beginning. This wine will need time in the bottle. As exciting as it sounds with a warm vintage the grapes were picked early to maintain acidity so it will need to settle into itself a bit before it is ready for drinking. This wine is always worth the wait. 

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