Eben Sadie: Sadie Family Wines and Sequillo Cellars
One of South Africa's leading winegrowers; South Africa revisited part 4

I’ve written about Eben Sadie before on wineanorak.com. He’s one of South Africa’s most interesting and competent winemakers, and so I was delighted to have a chance to catch up with him again on a visit to the Swartland region, his home patch.

Eben's Columella is one of South Africa's very best wines, if not the best. He has just completed the 10th vintage of this wine. Also under the Sadie Family Wines label is a white partner, Palladius, which is also superb. Eben also makes white and red under the Sequillo label (www.sequillo.com), which is effectively his negociant operation.

Eben says that the two wineries, Sequillo and Sadie Family Wines, are now completely separate. 'Initially it was logistics and capital that kept them together,' he says. 'The essence is still on blends and farming – getting the DNA of the grapes.' He has also been moving away from new small wood to bigger format containers: big old oval casks and concrete.

'Cabernet family grapes do really well in small barrels,' Eben maintains. 'All varieties with certain tannins need a rapid evolution in order to be bottled at 18 months, but it has become clear that mediterranean varieties are completely different: they already have advanced tannins and more fragile fruit.' This move has proved to be a massive logistics exercise. He is getting big oak from Austria, and buys one or two large barrels a year. As for barriques: 'The oak business is an industry; it doesn't exist any more as it was. French oak is dead now.'

'Syrah is the modern mediterranean grape variety,' says Eben. 'Everyone understands it, and it always delivers to expectations, like Nero d'Avola or Touriga Nacional. Syrah has the ability to communicate soil differences well.' He compares it with Cabernet, which always keeps its identity.

Palladius 2008
A blend of several white varities, 30% fermented in concrete eggs, 70% in old 500 litre barrels. Deep yellow colour. Lovely fresh, intense nutty and lemony notes with some herbiness. Quite complex. A beautiful white wine with lovely freshness, intensity and complexity. 94/100

Sequillo (white) 2008
60% Chenin Blanc, 20% Grenache Blanc, 10% Viognier, 10% Rousanne. A deep yellow colour, this has a lovely perfumed nose that is herby and mineral with sweet fruit. The palate is intense with notes of herbs and straw as well as a mineral edge to the plump, complex fruit. Nuts, toast, honey and herbs present. Lovely. 93/100

Sequillo (red) 2006
A blend of Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache Noir (newer vintages have Cinsault and Carignan too). Lovely. Fresh and focused with nice purity of cherry and berry fruit as well as subtle meatiness. The palate is pure and savoury with spicy structure. Precise and focused with real complexity and lovely savouriness. 92/100

Columella 2007
'I don't want to make powerful wines,' says Eben. 'I want to make elegant wines, but this wine is different because of vintage conditions.' A blend of 80% Syrah with 20% Mourvedre. Amazing, brooding, taut spicy mineral dark fruits nose. Intense with some floral notes. The palate is amazingly intense with fresh dark fruits and vivid structure and acidity. Spicy, dense and quite robust with huge structure. This needs lots of time. It's taut, dense, spicy and structured. 96/100  

For a more recent article on Eben's wines, see Columella Vertical Tasting with Eben Sadie (2012)

Part 1, Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards
Part 2, Cape Point Vineyards
Part 3, AA Badenhorst Family Wines
Part 4, Eben Sadie: Sadie Family Wines and Sequillo Cellars
Part 5, Paul Kretzel of Lammershoek
Part 6, Mullineux Family Wines
Part 7, Vondeling
Part 8, Scali
Part 9, Sterhuis

See also:
Visiting South Africa's wine lands (a series based on a trip in December 2005)

Wines tasted 11/09 
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