Long, taut and fine-grained, it presents notes of ripe citrus, tropical fruit, quinine with hints of lanolin, almond and ginger. Theres a nervous tension here very much like the best Loire wines that is cut by its bone-dry character and wonderful backbone of acidity.
Wine Spectator 91 points - Shows interesting spiced, slightly oxidized notes, with lightly mulled apple, ginger, mango and persimmon flavors, backed by hints of date, dried apricot and singed almond. Taut and nervy through the finish, lingering with an echo of walnut. Chenin Blanc. Drink now through 2015. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. 50 cases made. –JM
(Jun 30 2014)
The new generation of South African winemakers is promoting indigenous varietals and the quality of their terroir. In particular, Eben Sadie has become both curator and champion for old vines in the Swartland region of South Africa. Although just 40, Eben is one of the regions most experienced winemakers in his 20s, he was hired by Charles Back to start up The Spice Route which he left after founding his eponymous property in 1999.
Eben has carved out an enviable reputation for his Columella and Palladius estate bottlings, which are produced from seven leased vineyards which he farms himself. In the cellar Eben lets nature run its course spontaneous natural fermentation uses gravity to transfer his wines from vat to bottle and ages his wines in neutral wood. The reds age in large foudres for 24 months and the whites in barrel for 24 months. The most hands-on aspect to Ebens winemaking is at harvest when he and his team individually sort the hand-picked berries. Ebens patchwork approach to vineyard selection is reflective of his winemaking philosophy find the oldest vines that produce fruit representative of terroir. His 17 acre estate, of which half are bush vines and half trellised, is dry-farmed and planted on the gentle slopes of the region to a variety of soil types ‒ granite, slate, clay, sandstone, gravel and quartz.
After almost ten years of making his estate wines, Eben was ready for a new project and in 2009, introduced a bevy of small-production, single-vineyard wines sourced from Swartlands oldest vines. For this lineup, the whites were whole-bunch pressed, fermented in a combination of concrete eggs and large foudres and bottled after 10 months; the reds were bottled after 11 months. Eben keeps the wines sur lie through elevage so that he only has to add sulfur once, just prior to bottling.
|This wine comes from the Mev. Kirsten Stellenbosch (named for the vineyard’s owner) vineyard. Planted in 1905, it is one of South Africa’s oldest Chenin Blanc vineyards, and produces a tiny amount of juice the fruit from 2.4 acres amounts to just about 6 hectoliters. The wine ages in clay amphorae as there isn’t enough juice to fill a concrete egg, and Eben prefers to use neutral vessels. This distinctive wine seems to pull all sorts of elements from the soil.