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The Sadie Family Columella 2014

The Sadie Family Columella 2014

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"The 2014 Columella comes in a 13.65% alcohol, the lowest since 2000 according to Eben Sadie. "I am not looking for a wine that necessarily goes BOOM when it's first shown...I want a wine to age. There is no new oak now used during the élevage. When we look chemically at this wine, it is much more age-worthy than what we were making in 2010: there is a lot more CO2, the tannins are around 30% less ripe, a combination of the picking date and the grape variety, which makes them more oxygen stable." It has a brooding bouquet with brambly black fruit, briary, wild heather and cold stoney aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with sappy red and black fruit, very well balanced with crisp but firm tannins. The fruit feels blacker than previous vintages, a little more salinity towards the finish that conveys a subtle marine influence. It is a more introspective take on Columella, but this lends it an intellectual rather than hedonistic bent that I think was not a characteristic of the wine in its earlier vintages. Drink: 2023-2040. 96 points

I met up with Eben Sadie in Swartland to taste his 2015s. For more detailed information, I would refer readers to my South Africa report in 2015. When we met, he was as philosophical and sanguine as usual, though this was a few days before news broke that the Paardeberg Mountains are now threatened by two licensed, sand-mining enterprises that will directly impact his vineyards. Eben had briefly mentioned this specter in previous visits. Now it is fast becoming a reality and it seems outrageous that some of South Africa's greatest vineyards might be martyred for the sake of short-term profits. Still, he had other problems when we met. "The weather is getting to me," he told me, referring to the ongoing drought conditions that must put a lot of pressure upon his vines. "We started planting our own vineyards. The Old Vine Series aside, we want to produce at least 50% of our two signature wines ourselves in keeping with the notion of terroir. But I will never stop doing fermages, because the best soils are always "out there". But it would be good for stability reasons and you can push harder with you own vines. The cellar is all finished now. Paladius is all from clay amphora and concrete eggs, so it is now oak free. We are doing 80% rather than 100% whole bunch, because there seems to be a lack of juice in the early stages, when you have no alcohol and carbonic gas. We are also making more progress with the new varietals such Grillot and Negroamaro. The results are very interesting, although it will take much longer than I thought. You have to plant what belongs." Need I say much about Sadie's 2015s? I means, the adjectives, the numbers say it all... don't they? 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. When I broached the subject of price, Eben was typically nonchalant and expressed no desire to fleece customers or extract as much profit as possible. Sadly, I doubt the managers of the sand-mining company will have the same approach."

Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (213)