Showing 649–660 of 662 results

  • The Sadie Family Skerpioen 2019

    £69.99

    “The 2019 Skerpioen has a well-defined bouquet of pine cones, lanolin and wild fennel aromas that gains intensity with air. The palate is well balanced with a fine bead of acidity, full of energy and vigor, and slightly waxy in texture. Chamomile and touches of Turkish delight appear on the finish. Stand back and watch this blossom in the glass. Chenin Blanc, Palomino. Drinking window: 2022-2038. 93 points

    It had been too long since I shot the breeze with Eben Sadie. Even though we couldn’t chat in his natural habitat, the vineyard, our Zoom conversation between Surrey and the Swartland was the next best thing. As expected, our conversation meandered to cover all manner of subjects, not only pertaining to South Africa. Eben Sadie is a contradiction in the sense that he is wedded to his homeland yet has a catholic taste in wine, as evidenced by rows of Burgundy and Barolo bottles lining his office. He began in typically philosophical form, looking back at his professional career.

    “I have surpassed everything I set out to do and forged a team around me with similar capabilities. You need people to follow with the same trajectory, people that buy into your vision. It’s like a painter. You need a good studio where you feel free to practice your art. Wine is the same, but there are all these people who make it possible. We’ve gone from a staff of 10 to 25, mostly on the viticultural side. We have also acquired land, so that 80% of the vineyards are completely controlled by ourselves, even if from a financial standpoint it is much less profitable. Also, we have planted different grape varieties, which is exciting, though not all are successful.”

    One intriguing exchange concerned how Sadie reassesses the modus operandi in the winery every decade. In introducing a new approach – a change in punch-downs or aging vessel, for example – he wants to pressure-test that technique under different growing seasons and/or with different people, in order to gauge if it should be a permanent feature. Since the 2019 vintage is the 20th anniversary of Sadie Family Wines, it prompted Sadie to look back. To take just one facet of winemaking, he sees the first decade as one where everything was destemmed, then a decade when whole bunch was almost mandatory. Going forward, he plans to adopt a more nuanced approach.

    “Whole cluster is such a huge debate at the moment. When you look at regional specifics, areas with very cool climates producing fruit with high acidity, low pH and often very low potassium are most suited to whole bunch. [Looking back at previous vintages] we found in the first decade that there was a level and sophistication of tannin that was better than in the second decade. It feels like a textural aspect was lost. The second finding was that the Swartland being low in acidity and high in potassium in the stems, compounded by the droughts, means that I don’t think Swartland is the best place for whole cluster. Therefore, for the Old Vine Series reds, we took the whole cluster down from 90% to 50% in 2019. We don’t do punch-downs but more like a délestage, so that is what we will do going forward.”

    We then drilled down to discuss individual wines within his Old Vine Series of releases, commencing with the reds.

    “With respect to the 2019 Soldaat, you might have noticed a vegetal aspect in the Grenache,” Sadie told me. “In late December we have started removing leaves around the bunches to remove that aspect. I like it, but I like very austere and ungiving wines. Pofadder is a pure Cinsault vineyard, one where I noticed that it crops much lower. I don’t subscribe to the view that low crops are necessarily the best, but here I think it is a good thing. The actual bunches are smaller. We used to get a lot of side bunches but they’ve not appeared in the last three years. That’s nothing that we have done.”

    Eben Sadie is a huge fan of Tinta Barocca and once he starts on the subject, you can do little to stop him.

    “The Tinta Barocca [the variety behind Trienspoor] has had the biggest leap in quality. I think it is the best grape planted in the Swartland but it’s an unknown. Even producers don’t know where to plant it. For the 2019 we had one tank completely destemmed and another half-destemmed, so it was 20% destemmed overall, though 2021 is completely destemmed. It has Piedmont-like tannins and Northern Rhône aromatics. The problem is that it has very low yields, which is why Portuguese growers did not plant it widely after the war, when they were getting paid per kilo. But it has such intensity of flavor that I have to stop my pickers from eating the grapes during harvest. The viticulture is much better in this vineyard now. Also, the aging is improved, using conical vats and one foudre to give a little more tannin.”

    Sadie is one of the rare breeds of winemakers with no qualms about admitting that he could have done better, even though personally, I construe it as a bit of serendipity.

    “The Skurfberg [pure Chenin Blanc] was maybe picked earlier than I wanted. The drought was at its peak and yields were down to 12hl/ha instead of 25-28hl/ha. We could have picked a week later, but we would have possibly killed the vines. Even picking earlier, some vines died because in some places there was just 118mm of rain, half the norm. So it has more acidity than normal, with a green line running through the wine. It’s very strict. I’ll be watching this wine out of the corner of my eye to see whether that earlier picking is something we should pursue. Mev. Kirsten is one of those wines where I talk with a pride that can border on arrogance. But there is no vineyard like it. It’s one of the most difficult soils that we farm – it gets so wet quickly and dries just as quick. We have put a lot of organic material in that vineyard over the last 10 years. From 2017 onward it has entered a completely different realm. I took a six-pack to Burgundy and poured it for some growers, and a couple said that it drinks like a Grand Cru. That’s a huge compliment. I’m so proud of the viticulture here. I would take Aubert de Villaine into that vineyard to show him.””

    Neal Martin, Vinous (04/21)

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  • The Sadie Family Skurfberg 2019

    £74.99

    “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. Drinking window: 2022-2036. 95+ points

    It had been too long since I shot the breeze with Eben Sadie. Even though we couldn’t chat in his natural habitat, the vineyard, our Zoom conversation between Surrey and the Swartland was the next best thing. As expected, our conversation meandered to cover all manner of subjects, not only pertaining to South Africa. Eben Sadie is a contradiction in the sense that he is wedded to his homeland yet has a catholic taste in wine, as evidenced by rows of Burgundy and Barolo bottles lining his office. He began in typically philosophical form, looking back at his professional career.

    “I have surpassed everything I set out to do and forged a team around me with similar capabilities. You need people to follow with the same trajectory, people that buy into your vision. It’s like a painter. You need a good studio where you feel free to practice your art. Wine is the same, but there are all these people who make it possible. We’ve gone from a staff of 10 to 25, mostly on the viticultural side. We have also acquired land, so that 80% of the vineyards are completely controlled by ourselves, even if from a financial standpoint it is much less profitable. Also, we have planted different grape varieties, which is exciting, though not all are successful.”

    One intriguing exchange concerned how Sadie reassesses the modus operandi in the winery every decade. In introducing a new approach – a change in punch-downs or aging vessel, for example – he wants to pressure-test that technique under different growing seasons and/or with different people, in order to gauge if it should be a permanent feature. Since the 2019 vintage is the 20th anniversary of Sadie Family Wines, it prompted Sadie to look back. To take just one facet of winemaking, he sees the first decade as one where everything was destemmed, then a decade when whole bunch was almost mandatory. Going forward, he plans to adopt a more nuanced approach.

    “Whole cluster is such a huge debate at the moment. When you look at regional specifics, areas with very cool climates producing fruit with high acidity, low pH and often very low potassium are most suited to whole bunch. [Looking back at previous vintages] we found in the first decade that there was a level and sophistication of tannin that was better than in the second decade. It feels like a textural aspect was lost. The second finding was that the Swartland being low in acidity and high in potassium in the stems, compounded by the droughts, means that I don’t think Swartland is the best place for whole cluster. Therefore, for the Old Vine Series reds, we took the whole cluster down from 90% to 50% in 2019. We don’t do punch-downs but more like a délestage, so that is what we will do going forward.”

    We then drilled down to discuss individual wines within his Old Vine Series of releases, commencing with the reds.

    “With respect to the 2019 Soldaat, you might have noticed a vegetal aspect in the Grenache,” Sadie told me. “In late December we have started removing leaves around the bunches to remove that aspect. I like it, but I like very austere and ungiving wines. Pofadder is a pure Cinsault vineyard, one where I noticed that it crops much lower. I don’t subscribe to the view that low crops are necessarily the best, but here I think it is a good thing. The actual bunches are smaller. We used to get a lot of side bunches but they’ve not appeared in the last three years. That’s nothing that we have done.”

    Eben Sadie is a huge fan of Tinta Barocca and once he starts on the subject, you can do little to stop him.

    “The Tinta Barocca [the variety behind Trienspoor] has had the biggest leap in quality. I think it is the best grape planted in the Swartland but it’s an unknown. Even producers don’t know where to plant it. For the 2019 we had one tank completely destemmed and another half-destemmed, so it was 20% destemmed overall, though 2021 is completely destemmed. It has Piedmont-like tannins and Northern Rhône aromatics. The problem is that it has very low yields, which is why Portuguese growers did not plant it widely after the war, when they were getting paid per kilo. But it has such intensity of flavor that I have to stop my pickers from eating the grapes during harvest. The viticulture is much better in this vineyard now. Also, the aging is improved, using conical vats and one foudre to give a little more tannin.”

    Sadie is one of the rare breeds of winemakers with no qualms about admitting that he could have done better, even though personally, I construe it as a bit of serendipity.

    “The Skurfberg [pure Chenin Blanc] was maybe picked earlier than I wanted. The drought was at its peak and yields were down to 12hl/ha instead of 25-28hl/ha. We could have picked a week later, but we would have possibly killed the vines. Even picking earlier, some vines died because in some places there was just 118mm of rain, half the norm. So it has more acidity than normal, with a green line running through the wine. It’s very strict. I’ll be watching this wine out of the corner of my eye to see whether that earlier picking is something we should pursue. Mev. Kirsten is one of those wines where I talk with a pride that can border on arrogance. But there is no vineyard like it. It’s one of the most difficult soils that we farm – it gets so wet quickly and dries just as quick. We have put a lot of organic material in that vineyard over the last 10 years. From 2017 onward it has entered a completely different realm. I took a six-pack to Burgundy and poured it for some growers, and a couple said that it drinks like a Grand Cru. That’s a huge compliment. I’m so proud of the viticulture here. I would take Aubert de Villaine into that vineyard to show him.””

    Neal Martin, Vinous (04/21)

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  • Valette Macon-Villages 2017

    £25.99

    “Aromas of minty green apples and citrus oil introduce the 2017 Mâcon-Villages, a medium to full-bodied, supple and fleshy wine that’s bright and layered, concluding with a saline finish. This bottling comes from comparatively young vines and is vinified and matured in tank. The 2017 is quite easy to understand and makes a great introduction to the wines of this fascinating and idiosyncratic domaine. Drinking window: 2019-2029. 89 points

    After years of trying, it was with great interest that I at last paid a visit to Philippe Valette’s elusive 8.5-hectare Chaintré estate. The Valette family were the first to exit the local cooperative, and they rapidly won a reputation for rich, concentrated wines that were frequently celebrated in the pages of this publication. On leaving school in 1990, Philippe began to convert the domaine to organic farming, and since 1992, their wines have never been chaptalized. Influenced by a meeting with Pierre Overnoy, Valette has come to identify with the natural wine movement, and today, his wines see little or no sulfur and increasingly long élevage—indeed, the 2006 Clos de Monsieur Noly spent fully 12 years in barrel. If the estate’s wines through the late 1990s were simply powerful, textural examples of high-quality white Burgundy (notes on several will appear in the next installment of Up From the Cellar), the wines being released today belong in a category of their own. Complex and sapid, I find them fascinating, but readers should be prepared to find wines that are quite different from any of the Valettes’ neighbors. Anyone who appreciates the Jura bottlings of Jean-François Ganevat or the Thomas Pico Chablis wines is likely to love them! My experience is that they often benefit from extended aeration, and I tend to decant Valette’s wines or follow them over several days.”

    William Kelley, Wine Advocate (244)

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  • Williams Selyem Calegari Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015

    £98.49

    “The 2015 Pinot Noir Calegari Vineyard offers a super-appealing combination of Russian River exuberance and structure. The Calegari is not as obvious as some of the wines in this range. It will appeal most to readers who enjoy the more savory, earthy side of Pinot. There is more than enough complexity to provide fine drinking for a number of years. Drink: 2020-2030. 93 points”

    Antonio Galloni, Vinous (04/18)

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  • Williams Selyem Eastside Road Neighbors Pinot Noir 2017

    £99.99

    “The 2017 Pinot Noir Eastside Road Neighbors is wonderfully deep and expressive, with striking tonalities of ripe dark red/purplish fruit, spice, leather and earthiness. In this range, the Eastside Road Neighbors is distinguished by its baritone voice and resonance, all delivered in a highly appealing, mid-weight style. This plump, juicy Pinot offers considerable near and medium term appeal. Drinking window: 2020-2032. 94 points

    Williams Selyem generally releases their wines in two groupings, so I don’t often have an opportunity to taste them all together, as I did this year. I was deeply impressed. From top to bottom, the 2017s are absolutely delicious and also quite differentiated.”

    Antonio Galloni, Vinous (05/19)

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  • Williams Selyem Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017

    £179.99

    “The 2017 Pinot Noir Williams Selyem Estate Vineyard is powerful and tightly wound, with less of the appeal found in most of these 2017s. That shouldn’t be too much of an issue in another few years’ time, but readers should plan on being patient. There is not much Russian River charm on display today. Drinking window: 2022-2032. 94+ points

    Williams Selyem generally releases their wines in two groupings, so I don’t often have an opportunity to taste them all together, as I did this year. I was deeply impressed. From top to bottom, the 2017s are absolutely delicious and also quite differentiated.”

    Antonio Galloni, Vinous (05/19)

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  • Williams Selyem Ferrington Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017

    £99.95

    “The 2017 Pinot Noir Ferrington Vineyard is another absolutely gorgeous wine in this range. Pliant, racy and succulent, the 2017 has so much to offer. Sweet red and purplish berries, spice and lavender open up first, with a kick of bright blood orange-infused acids that perk up the flavors. Soft curves and ripe, silky tannins make the 2017 impossible to resist. This is such a gorgeous wine. Drinking window: 2020-2037. 94 points

    Williams Selyem generally releases their wines in two groupings, so I don’t often have an opportunity to taste them all together, as I did this year. I was deeply impressed. From top to bottom, the 2017s are absolutely delicious and also quite differentiated.”

    Antonio Galloni, Vinous (05/19)

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  • Williams Selyem Papera Vineyard Zinfandel 2014

    £82.95

    “Complex and well-focused, with distinctive aromas of blueberry and mint leading to complex, densely packed flavors of raspberry, white pepper and loamy mineral. Ripe tannins frame the finish. Drink now through 2026. 425 cases made. 90 points”

    Tim Fish, Wine Spectator (06/16)

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  • Williams Selyem Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2018

    £86.49

    “The 2018 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley) is plump and juicy, with a lovely sense of immediacy that runs through it. Sweet red/purplish berry fruit, wild flowers, mint and cinnamon are all nicely kicked up in this mid-weight, gracious appellation-level Pinot from Williams Selyem. Drinking window: 2020-2028. 89 points”

    Antonio Galloni, Vinous (01/20)

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  • Williams Selyem Unoaked Chardonnay 2017

    £67.99

    “The 2017 Unoaked Chardonnay has a pretty, fresh nose with citrus blossom, tangerine, spring honey and stone fruit aromas. The palate is light-bodied with pure fruits in the mouth, tangy acidity and a long, floral finish. 755 cases were made. Drink: 2019-2023. 90 points”

    Erin Brooks, Wine Advocate (242)

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  • Williams Selyem Vista Verde Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014

    £86.49

    “A wine of precision and understatement, the 2014 Pinot Noir Vista Verde Vineyard offers up generous sweet red and bluish-hued berry flavors, with good supporting acidity and nuance to match. The Vista Verde is one of the smaller-scaled Pinots. Here it is the wine’s balance that impresses most. A closing kick of acidity adds brightness and energy. Drink: 2018-2016. 92 points

    This is an impressive set of 2014 Pinot Noirs from Williams Selyem. Specifically, the wines offer terrific depth and plenty of vintage character – both not always easy to come by in this vintage – in the classic, mid-weight style that has earned the winery a devoted following over the last several decades.”

    Antonio Galloni, Vinous (08/16)

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  • Williams Selyem Weir Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017

    £99.99

    “The 2017 Pinot Noir Weir Vineyard is beautifully lifted and precise, as wines from this appellation tend to be. Crushed flowers, crushed berries and mint add nuance as this high-toned, perfumed Pinot opens up in the glass. The Weir will appeal most to readers who appreciate delicacy in Pinot Noir. Drinking window: 2020-2032. 93 points

    Williams Selyem generally releases their wines in two groupings, so I don’t often have an opportunity to taste them all together, as I did this year. I was deeply impressed. From top to bottom, the 2017s are absolutely delicious and also quite differentiated.”

    Antonio Galloni, Vinous (05/19)

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