2019 Sadie Family Citrusdal Mountain Skurfberg
The Sadie Family team work with roughly 30-hectares of vines, one-third of which are estate, with the other vines farmed entirely under their control. This is a considerable undertaking when you consider, at their furthest point, the vineyards lie some 250 miles apart and are spread across 53 separate parcels. Then consider that everything is dry grown and organically farmed and that each parcel, having different geologies, aspects and often grape varieties, will require different management. These vines lie mostly on the high altitude slopes of Swartland’s Atlantic-influenced mountains, one hour north of Cape Town on the Western Cape.
This extraordinary 100% Chenin Blanc hails from South Africa’s northernmost wine region, the arid Citrusdal Mountain WO, on the west bank of the Olifants River. Specifically, the fruit is drawn from three parcels of 90-year-old, ungrafted bush vines on the decomposed, red sandstone slopes of the Skurfberg (which means ‘rigid mountain’). Planted between 1940-1955, these three immaculately farmed vineyards have never been treated with herbicide or chemical fertilizers. Each parcel is vinified separately, basket-pressed, then transferred to old casks for natural fermentation. Following 12 months on lees, the wine is blended, then returned to the same casks for a further six months before bottling directly from foudre. The result is an unbelievable tension-fuelled wine that can stand up to the great Chenins of the Loire—a wine of jaw-dropping texture, mineral energy and complexity.
The 2019 Skurfberg, which is whole-cluster-pressed Chenin matured in old foudre, has an understated bouquet of subtle undergrowth, chalk and chai tea scents that take their time to find their groove. The palate is very well balanced with a fine degree of acidity, more neutral in style than Sadie’s other 2019s, just a touch of orange zest lighting up the finish. This Skurfberg needs 4–5 years in bottle but it will certainly be worth your patience and may merit a higher score down the line.
Neal Martin - Vinous
A one-hundred-point white? From South Africa? I can almost hear the tutting and clucking from here. But I defy anyone to taste this monumental wine, preferably among a line-up of other, world-class wines and resist its charms. The crop was down 60%, resulting in an old-vine Chenin of mind-blowing focus, depth and concentration. Quince, lemon and subtle Asian spices segue into a palate of nuances, corners, light and shade and dark. Well done, Eben Sadie. Well done, the van Lill family, who grow the grapes. Well done, South Africa.
Tim Atkin MW - South Africa Special Report 2020