2019 Sadie Family Swartland Palladius
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.
Sadie’s signature white is a blend of all 11 of Swartland’s official white varieties, with old, bush-vine Chenin Blanc playing the principal role. The idea is to produce a great white that represents the overall terroir of Swartland (as much as this is possible) and to use all the permitted varieties. As a result, this is harvested from 17 separate vineyard sites, with the full list of grapes taking in Grenache Blanc, Clairette Blanche, Viognier, Verdelho, Roussanne, Marsanne, Semillon Blanc, Palomino and Colombard, as well as the hyper-rare Semillon Gris (which plays a key role in Sadie’s Kokerboom and ‘T Voetpad old vine cuvées). Scattered thought the Swartland, most of the vineyards are rooted in decomposed Paardeberg granite (although four parcels lie on sandstone) and qualify for old vine status (35-plus years with the oldest vines planted in 1935). The younger fruit comes from Sadie’s own plantings, although even here the yields max out at 22 hl/ha.
As for the winemaking, the fruit was sorted and pressed in a traditional basket, directly into clay amphoras and six concrete eggs. The wine finished fermenting in its own time (which can take up to 20 months) after which it went to large wooden foudre for maturation before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Throughout the season, Sadie’s major goal is to “try and get the maximum volume of compact fruit and texture together with the best potential volume of acidity and freshness.” That’s something he has unquestionably achieved here, with the breadth and texture setting Palladius apart from the from his old vine series whites. Unlike those wines, this relies less on the acidity, instead harnessing a deep phenolic freshness that structures the wine. Sadie continues, “Over the past five years Palladius has been the wine that gained most in quality and refinement and much of this has to do with the addition of more vineyards and the improvement of their viticulture.”
Seventeen grapes from 11 sites make up the blend of this celebrated Swartland white, created to combine "two worlds in one - weight and tension", according to Eben Sadie. Perfumed and exotic, it's daringly unoaked, with peach, apricot, green apple and lime flavours, aromatic spices, layers of complexity and a racy, balanced finish.
Tim Atkin MW - South Africa Special Report 2021