2020 Sadie Family Swartland Skerpioen
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.
Named after the abundant native scorpions that make their home here, Skerpioen is an unirrigated, 2.4-hectare, 80-plus-year-old vineyard of half Palomino and half Chenin Blanc, just 2km from the Atlantic Ocean and overlooking the Elands Bay. The soils here are very sandy and chalky, a type that Sadie likens to the white albarizas of Andalucía (fitting then that the vines here are 50% Palomino). This is one of the coolest parts of the Swartland yet it’s also a very dry location (with an average rainfall of only around 300mm per year). This naturally restricts the yields and concentrates the fruit, magnifying the vineyards’ characteristic saline intensity. This parcel produces a tiny yield of 24 hl/ha on average. The grapes are picked and pressed together and naturally co-ferment in old wooden casks. The result is a stunning and complex white that is completely unique. As always, this is Sadie’s most mineral, racy and low alcohol white.
Accessible young, as it tends to be, but also capable of ageing well in bottle, this is a coastal, 50/50 blend of Chenin Blanc and Palomino grown on highly unusual sand and limestone soils. Aromas of citrus and almonds lead into a palate that is engagingly fresh, briney and salty, finishing with a pithy tang.
Tim Atkin MW - South Africa Special Report 2021