2020 Sadie Family Swartland Treinspoor
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.
Tinta Barocca arrived in South Africa from the Duero and has found a home in the Western Cape. Historically Tinta Barocca has always played a prominent role in Swartland's red blends, though interest in the variety, particularly from the old, dry-grown vineyards, has really spiked in recent years. This vineyard, planted in 1974 and located next to the old railway line (treinspoor), lies four kilometres west of Malmesbury on decomposed granite and sandstone. Sadie notes that while the very fragile, thin skin of Tinta Barocca is prone to sunburn, the old bush vines keep the bunches sheltered from the intense Swartland sun. Sadie likens his Treinspoor to a sort of stylistic cross between Northern Rhone Syrah (blackberry/currant fruit, plushness, nettles) and Piemontese Nebbiolo, (spice, florals, acidity and tannins). That pretty much nails it. It's certainly a wine of great energy and drive, with its dark and inky core surrounded by layers of pretty, red fruit and florals all wrapped in fine, powdery tannins. Fermented in concrete and raised for 12 months in foudre, it's an outstanding, idiosyncratic red of great beauty and character.
We're doing an enormous amount of work in the vineyard to recuperate it," says Eben Sadie of his beloved Tinta Barocca, "and trying to extract less in the winery." Showing its classic grip and tannins, this has damson, liquorice and tar-like flavours and aromas, appealingly rustic tannins and the structure to age. Nebbiolo meets Syrah.
Tim Atkin MW - South Africa Special Report 2021