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The Sadie Family

Mesmerising Swartland from “One of the World's Greatest Winemakers” [Atkin]
The Sadie Family
For the first time since 2018, we’re delighted to offer a (*tiny!) parcel of this cult grower's wines to our full client base. Long-term drought conditions in Swartland mean we have been working with just a trickle of wines for the past few years. Yet, with more water in the soils, fortunately, Eben Sadie has been able to send a little more wine, allowing us to spread the net this year. Long may the rains continue.

There is no more influential grower in South Africa than Eben, a man regularly discussed in the same breath as the world’s greatest by those who know the wines. He is an innovator on many levels, so to distil his ethos and methods into a paragraph or two is like trying to capture a waterfall in a bucket. Our website is a good place to familiarise yourself with the background. In short, Sadie releases two labels each year. His Signature Collection, Palladius and Columella, features multi-varietal blends cropped from the family’s meticulously tended estate vineyards in Swartland. These two wines have already earned a deserved reputation as South Africa’s First Growths (and have the scores to match).

The Old Vine Series (Die Ouwingerdreeks) is the fruition of a project very close to Eben’s heart. These highly sought-after wines are produced in very limited volumes from some of Swartland’s oldest and most unique vineyards, each with its own fascinating story. The style of the red wines is the antithesis of the super ripe, powerful, wooded South African stereotype. Wine writer Neal Martin describes the wines thus, “I remember [Sadie] pouring me the first [Old Vine Series] vintage at a café in Riebeek Kasteel with Chris Mullineux and South African writer Tim James,” Martin writes in Vinous. “They were not your typical South African wines. There were differences in terms of aromas and taste, challenged the senses and asked questions rather than just giving you what you wanted.”

All this is to say, the Sadie Family’s wines are among the most absorbing we taste each year, and we cannot recommend them highly enough. And even though these wines are almost impossible to source unless you are on the right mailing list, they continue to offer exceptional value in global terms.

The Wines

Sadie Family Swartland Pofadder 2022

Sadie Family Swartland Pofadder 2022

Old Vine Series. In the 1920s, Cinsault was the most-planted black grape in South Africa. However, as one of the fickler varieties to work with and to vinify, it suffered a fall from grace post-WWII. It’s only very recently that (with growers such as Eben Sadie and Chris Alheit leading the charge) the ‘Pinot Noir of Swartland’ has been reborn, and the results are revelatory. This variety is now being planted more and more by some top growers in the south of Franc. Wines like this show you why.

Pofadder is pure Cinsault, cropped from a parcel on the Kasteelberg Mountain (west of Malmesbury) planted in 1973. The soils are slate and decomposed shale. Pofadder is Afrikaans for a puff adder, a type of snake in these parts that claimed the life of a vineyard worker in the 1940s. Sadie is a champion for old-vine Cinsault in the Cape, but even he concedes that this is the vineyard and the wine that need the most care. Controlling yields, bunch/berry sorting and protection from oxidation in the cellar are all vital. Roughly 50% whole bunches are placed in an old wooden, open-top fermenter, with one or two gentle foot-stomps each day to release just enough juice to keep the fermentation ticking over. After a month on skins, the grapes are transferred to a tiny basket press and pressed directly to 28-year-old conical wooden casks for aging. The wine, crafted from yields below 28 hl/ha, is a gloriously textured yet vibrant wine, a delicate ode to variety and region.

“Can Cinsault make world class wines? In the right hands, yes. This complex, juicy, joyously drinkable Darling red has amazing concentration and grip for what is only a medium-bodied wine. Rose petal and hibiscus aromas segue into a palate of goji berry and red cherry, with some clove and white pepper top notes from 50% whole clusters and a fresh, ocean-influenced finish. 2024-30.”
96 points, Tim Atkin MW, South Africa Report 2023
“The 2022 Pofadder is pure Cinsault from Swartland, 50% whole clusters with 20 to 28 days on the skins, raised in 40-year-old foudres. It has a pure bouquet with maraschino, blueberry, pressed flowers and a light musk-like scent. Stunning delineation. The palate is medium-bodied with ultra-fine tannins, perfectly judged acidity, gentle grip and an extraordinarily long and sensual finish. Cinsault doesn't get better than this, and I could understand why Sadie remarked, “The fruit was so great I didn't want to put it into the vat.”
95 points, Neal Martin, Vinous
Sadie Family Swartland Pofadder 2022
Sadie Family Swartland Treinspoor 2022

Sadie Family Swartland Treinspoor 2022

Old Vine Series. “It’s a Swartland thing”, notes Sadie of Tinta Barocca (the South African spelling has only one ‘r’ and two ‘c’s). This variety arrived in South Africa from the Douro and has found an opportune home in the Western Cape. Historically, Tinta das Baroccas (as it was once labelled) has always played a prominent role in Swartland’s red blends, and interest in the variety—particularly from old, dry-grown vineyards—has 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 of this site keep the bunches sheltered from the intense Swartland sun. He likens his Treinspoor to a sort of stylistic cross between northern Rhône Syrah (black cherry/blackcurrant/grenadine fruit, iodine and nettles) and Piedmontese Nebbiolo (spice, flowers, acidity and tannins): “It has Piedmont-like tannins and northern Rhône aromatics” says Eben. Regardless, as you can read below, it’s a brilliant red. It ferments in concrete with 50% whole bunches and is raised for 11 months in large cask. Like all Sadie wines, it is an outstanding, idiosyncratic red of beauty, finesse and character.

“The 2022 Treinspoor is pure Swartland Tinta Barocca that includes 50% whole clusters, 20 to 28 days on the skins and matured in old foudres. The bouquet is a little plusher on the nose than the Pofadder, with crushed rose petals and fynbos - garrigue. Stunning delineation. The palate is medium-bodied with filigree tannins, perfectly balanced, and a touch of graphite. It’s quite saline on the finish with a pinch of white pepper. All this is delivered at just 13.1% alcohol. Sadie reckons this grape variety is a long-term player, and I've no reason to disagree. Sublime.”
97 points, Neal Martin, Vinous
“I'm besotted with this grape," says Eben Sadie, and I'm finally beginning to understand his infatuation. Less tannic and rustic than it has been in the past, Treinspoor is structured, focused and intense with notes of tar, damson, plum skin and redcurrant and lots of ageing potential.”
95 points, Tim Atkin MW, South Africa Report 2023
Sadie Family Swartland Treinspoor 2022
Sadie Family Piekenierskloof Soldaat 2022

Sadie Family Piekenierskloof Soldaat 2022

Old Vine Series. Soldaat is 100% Grenache from a parcel of 55-year-old vines in the highland Piekenierskloof region (just shy of the Swartland catchment, going north to Citrusdal). The vineyard got its name from the foot soldiers (piekeniers) who once used this area as a lookout. Sadie’s east-facing parcel sits around 780 metres—one of the Cape’s highest elevations—and the soil is decomposed granite. The vines here are unirrigated and still on their own roots.

Eben notes that The Piekenierskloof Pass has firmly positioned itself as the leading location for Cape Grenache, capable of giving vibrant, perfumed wines with lifted red fruit, smoky, spicy notes and earthy minerality. This wine calls to mind the elegant, perfumed Garnachas from Gredos and San Martín de Valdeiglesias in the Madrid highlands, yet with precision and class all its own. And at 13% alcohol, it’s entirely different from the heavy, alcoholic wines often associated with Grenache. Crafted from yields of 22 hl/ha, Soldaat ferments and matures in concrete tanks (with 60% whole bunches this year).


“Eben Sadie buys the grapes for this wine from Erasmus and Bielie van Zyl's farm in Piekenierskloof. Comparatively pale in colour but certainly not lacking in perfume or intensity, it's subtle, ethereal Grenache of great precision. Fermented with 50% whole bunches, it has flavours of rooibos tea, pomegranate and wild strawberry and a racy, stony finish.”
95 points, Tim Atkin MW, South Africa Report 2023
“The 2022 Soldaat is Eben Sadies' Grenache from the Citrusdal Mountains, 50% whole clusters with 20 to 28 days on the skins, raised in concrete. It has a captivating bouquet, very floral with pressed rose petals, kirsch, pomegranate and cranberry. The palate has a touch of sour cherry on the entry, very tensile and linear. Yet, there is also disarming purity and cohesion on the finish, very peppery on the sustained aftertaste. Wonderful.”
93 points, Neal Martin, Vinous
Sadie Family Piekenierskloof Soldaat 2022
Sadie Family Swartland Columella 2021

Sadie Family Swartland Columella 2021

Signature wine. First released in 2000, Columella is Sadie’s most famous wine. While it’s regularly described as an icon of Swartland (and indeed South Africa), Eben Sadie’s goal is simply to produce the finest, most honest expression he can from Swartland as a whole. As such, the blend includes six of the seven official red grapes that grow in the region. The 2021 is a blend of one-quarter Syrah, with the remainder a blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache, Carignan, Tinta Barocca and Cinsault. Eben notes that the incremental growth of Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsault and Tinta Barocca in the final blend has contributed to the depth and complexity of tannins and that there is also more fruit purity.

Eben also wants to capture as many Swartland soils and climates as possible. This year, the grapes came from seven soil types (including granite, slate, gravel and sandstone) across 11 separate vineyards in Paardeberg, Kasteelberg, Malmesbury and Piquetberg. Most are low-yielding, old-vine parcels, although some of the estate’s younger material also plays its part. Many of the Syrah vines have been trained to their own pole (échelas style, as per northern Rhône).

Most of the fruit is destemmed, although an increasing percentage of whole bunches are used each year. Sadie has a sorting team of 25 who discard 8 to 15% of the fruit each year. The grapes go into a huge open fermenter for an average of three weeks on skins before being basket-pressed into primarily old French oak barrels (less than 5% new). After a year on lees, the wine is racked into seasoned oval casks (foudres) for further maturation on the fine lees. The wine is then bottled without fining or filtration.

A quick note on the history and evolution of this wine. The wine was a predominantly Syrah blend with Mourvèdre in its first decade. Over the years, specifically since 2009, Sadie has introduced ever-increasing amounts of the other varieties. The fruit is also picked earlier, and the winemaking has progressed. Before 2009, the style was geared towards power and extraction, maximising depth of colour, flavour and tannin. Post-2009, the maceration has become progressively gentler to the point where the cap is simply kept wet, mainly via handheld jugs. The amount of new oak has also decreased radically. It is no coincidence that these changes happened around the same time that Sadie was experimenting with similar techniques at Terroir al Límit in Priorat.

Columella is nonetheless a more powerful, complex wine than those in the Old Vine Series, with unforced intensity and a corresponding increase in texture and ripeness. We recommend decanting, and Sadie suggests a minimum of eight years in the cellar before opening. Good luck with that! The notes below tell you all about the style and brilliant quality of the 2021 release. It has the finesse, sappiness and vibrancy of great Burgundy (from a powerful year) and the depth and structure to live for decades.

“This 2021 vintage of Columella displays extremely bright red fruit aromas. The wine is incredibly fresh, and the 24 months of ageing in old casks are unmarked; it almost seems like the fruit is still hanging on the vine. Some velvety spicey herbal aromas of the bush come through on the aromatics, and then violets and perfumes follow. There are darker, deeper lines of graphite, black olive and cedarwood aromatics, and the structure of the wine is quite seamless; the tannins flow into the acidity at the end of the palate. It is incredibly balanced, and delicate layers of stitching make up this wine. Time is your friend on this one.” Eben Sadie

“The latest in a remarkable run of Columellas from Paul Jordaan and Eben Sadie, this is an eight-variety blend with Syrah taking the lead role assisted by a supporting cast of 74% Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsault, Tinta Barocca, Pinotage and Alicante Bouschet. It's a Rhône Valley meets Pinot Noir style, with a combination of grace and intensity. Spicy, floral and alluring, it has aromas of incense and fynbos, detailed tannins, some meat and tapenade and the grip and focus to evolve for a decade or more in bottle.”
98 points, Tim Atkin MW, South Africa Report 2023
Sadie Family Swartland Columella 2021
Sadie Family Swartland Palladius 2021

Sadie Family Swartland Palladius 2021

Signature wine. Palladius is a blend of all 11 of Swartland’s official white varieties, with old bush-vine Chenin Blanc playing the principal role. Like the Columella red, the idea is to produce a great white that represents the overall terroir of Swartland, so it tries to use all permitted grapes. As a result, it is harvested from 17 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 starring role in Sadie’s Kokerboom and ’T Voetpad cuvées). Scattered throughout Swartland, most of the vineyards are rooted in decomposed Paardeberg granite (although four parcels lie on sandstone), and most qualify for old-vine status (35 years plus), with the oldest planted in 1935. The younger-vine fruit comes from Sadie’s own plantings, though even here, the yields max out at 30 hl/ha.

As for the winemaking, the fruit was sorted and pressed in a traditional, vertical press directly into clay amphora and concrete egg (725 litres). The wine went to large wooden foudre for maturation. The full aging cycle is 24 months. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Throughout the season, Sadie’s primary goal is, in his own words, “to try and get the maximum volume of compact fruit and texture together with the best potential volume of acidity and freshness.” He has unquestionably achieved that here, with the extra breadth, power and texture setting Palladius apart from his Old Vine Series whites. Palladius relies less on acidity than those wines, harnessing a deep, phenolic freshness that frames the wine. Eben continues: “Over the past five years, Palladius has been the wine that gained the most in quality and refinement, and much of this has to do with the addition of more vineyards and the improvement of their viticulture.” It’s a white of vast complexity, the kind you can sit with for hours. The 2021 is magical; Eben’s tasting note below captures it beautifully. It’s deep, powerful, and complex, yes, but it has finesse, freshness and balance, making it a joy to drink.

“The 2021 Palladius displays early-picked stone fruit aromas with some citrus aromas in the background. Still, the minerality and salty qualities on the palate suggest that the wine will be slender for a while but will fill up over time in the bottle. Complex earthy aromas with lanolin layers make up the deeper aspects of aromatics. The palate of the wine is substantial, and the tannins and the acidity seem coiled up super tight. The current taste of the wine shows every intention of this vintage to be a longstanding wine with a big-player mentality. Tasting through the lineup this year, this wine is just a standout.” Eben Sadie

“The 2021 Palladius displays early-picked stone fruit aromas with some citrus aromas in the background. Still, the minerality and salty qualities on the palate suggest that the wine will be slender for a while but will fill up over time in the bottle. Complex earthy aromas with lanolin layers make up the deeper aspects of aromatics. The palate of the wine is substantial, and the tannins and the acidity seem coiled up super tight. The current taste of the wine shows every intention of this vintage to be a longstanding wine with a big-player mentality. Tasting through the lineup this year, this wine is just a standout.” Eben Sadie

“We want Palladius to operate in the same space as Columella", says Eben Sadie of his complex, 17 parcel, multi-varietal white blend, produced as a macedoine of Chenin Blanc with 75% Verdelho, Roussanne, Palomino, Grenache Blanc, Clairette Blanche, Viognier and Marsanne. Peach, pear, citrus and grapefruit flavours are complemented by subtle lees from ageing in concrete eggs and amphoras, tangy acidity and impressive underlying concentration.”
96 points, Tim Atkin MW, South Africa Report 2020
“The 2021 Palladius displays early-picked stone fruit aromas with some citrus aromas in the background. Still, the minerality and salty qualities on the palate suggest that the wine will be slender for a while but will fill up over time in the bottle. Complex earthy aromas with lanolin layers make up the deeper aspects of aromatics. The palate of the wine is substantial, and the tannins and the acidity seem coiled up super tight. The current taste of the wine shows every intention of this vintage to be a longstanding wine with a big-player mentality. Tasting through the lineup this year, this wine is just a standout.”
Eben Sadie
Sadie Family Swartland Palladius 2021
Sadie Family Swartland Palladius 2021 (1500ml)

Sadie Family Swartland Palladius 2021 (1500ml)

Signature wine. Palladius is a blend of all 11 of Swartland’s official white varieties, with old bush-vine Chenin Blanc playing the principal role. Like the Columella red, the idea is to produce a great white that represents the overall terroir of Swartland, so it tries to use all permitted grapes. As a result, it is harvested from 17 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 starring role in Sadie’s Kokerboom and ’T Voetpad cuvées). Scattered throughout Swartland, most of the vineyards are rooted in decomposed Paardeberg granite (although four parcels lie on sandstone), and most qualify for old-vine status (35 years plus), with the oldest planted in 1935. The younger-vine fruit comes from Sadie’s own plantings, though even here, the yields max out at 30 hl/ha.

As for the winemaking, the fruit was sorted and pressed in a traditional, vertical press directly into clay amphora and concrete egg (725 litres). The wine went to large wooden foudre for maturation. The full aging cycle is 24 months. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Throughout the season, Sadie’s primary goal is, in his own words, “to try and get the maximum volume of compact fruit and texture together with the best potential volume of acidity and freshness.” He has unquestionably achieved that here, with the extra breadth, power and texture setting Palladius apart from his Old Vine Series whites. Palladius relies less on acidity than those wines, harnessing a deep, phenolic freshness that frames the wine. Eben continues: “Over the past five years, Palladius has been the wine that gained the most in quality and refinement, and much of this has to do with the addition of more vineyards and the improvement of their viticulture.” It’s a white of vast complexity, the kind you can sit with for hours. The 2021 is magical; Eben’s tasting note below captures it beautifully. It’s deep, powerful, and complex, yes, but it has finesse, freshness and balance, making it a joy to drink.

“The 2021 Palladius displays early-picked stone fruit aromas with some citrus aromas in the background. Still, the minerality and salty qualities on the palate suggest that the wine will be slender for a while but will fill up over time in the bottle. Complex earthy aromas with lanolin layers make up the deeper aspects of aromatics. The palate of the wine is substantial, and the tannins and the acidity seem coiled up super tight. The current taste of the wine shows every intention of this vintage to be a longstanding wine with a big-player mentality. Tasting through the lineup this year, this wine is just a standout.” Eben Sadie


“The 2021 Palladius displays early-picked stone fruit aromas with some citrus aromas in the background. Still, the minerality and salty qualities on the palate suggest that the wine will be slender for a while but will fill up over time in the bottle. Complex earthy aromas with lanolin layers make up the deeper aspects of aromatics. The palate of the wine is substantial, and the tannins and the acidity seem coiled up super tight. The current taste of the wine shows every intention of this vintage to be a longstanding wine with a big-player mentality. Tasting through the lineup this year, this wine is just a standout.” Eben Sadie

“We want Palladius to operate in the same space as Columella", says Eben Sadie of his complex, 17 parcel, multi-varietal white blend, produced as a macedoine of Chenin Blanc with 75% Verdelho, Roussanne, Palomino, Grenache Blanc, Clairette Blanche, Viognier and Marsanne. Peach, pear, citrus and grapefruit flavours are complemented by subtle lees from ageing in concrete eggs and amphoras, tangy acidity and impressive underlying concentration”
96 points, Tim Atkin MW, South Africa Report 2020
“The 2021 Palladius displays early-picked stone fruit aromas with some citrus aromas in the background. Still, the minerality and salty qualities on the palate suggest that the wine will be slender for a while but will fill up over time in the bottle. Complex earthy aromas with lanolin layers make up the deeper aspects of aromatics. The palate of the wine is substantial, and the tannins and the acidity seem coiled up super tight. The current taste of the wine shows every intention of this vintage to be a longstanding wine with a big-player mentality. Tasting through the lineup this year, this wine is just a standout.”
Eben Sadie
Sadie Family Swartland Palladius 2021 (1500ml)

“Eben Sadie has become the great curator of the old treasures out in the field of South Africa's Swartland, with his Old Vines series the reliquary.” Jon Bonné



“...That these rare and beautiful bottlings continue to be sold at prices that would not encourage a Bordeaux Classed Growth proprietor out of his bed each morning is still quite unbelievable, especially when you've seen the passion and commitment up close.” Neal Martin

“The wines shine through with a level of magnificence that is simply stunning [although the] wines are tough to find as most of these wines are on allocation.”
Anthony Mueller, The Wine Advocate



“The rapid rise of South Africa’s Swartland wine region over the past 20 years has been thrilling to watch. And arguably the most influential winemaker during this renaissance has – and continues to be – Eben Sadie.”
Decanter Magazine

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