Introducing the 2023 Releases From Eben Sadie, South Africa’s Wine Icon

By | 18 April 2024

Eben Sadie has been a frequent topic of my previous writings. He requires little to no introduction. Therefore, instead of a lengthy preamble, I will directly dive into my observations on the latest offerings from South Africa’s most reputed winemaker. Regrettably, his creations sell out within moments of their release.

Skerpioen 2022 Swartland
A vineyard, co-planted with palomino and chenin on white limestone. Half of each grape type is whole-bunch pressed into old foudre before bottle maturation on the lees. The end product is a textured, mineral wine, broad on pallet with delightfully fresh citrus fruits and mineral undertones. It is layered, fresh, profound and exquisitely fine. Score: 94/100

T’Voetpad 2022 Swartland
A field blend of vines planted anywhere between 1887 and 1928, with most planted in 1900. Grown in Picketberg’s alluvial Sandstone. Contains Semillons Blanc and Gris, Palomino, Chenin, and 1% Muscat. The result is a linear, luminous blend, characterized by chalky mineral undertones. It is fine, tapered, linear, detailed, and precise. Indeed, it is very fine. Score: 97/100

Rotsbank 2022 Swartland
Originates from a vineyard in the Paardeberg, now owned by Eben, with shallow decomposed granite soils. The resulting wine is slightly cloudy and highly textural, featuring mineral undertones as well as pear and white peach flavors. It maintains a remarkable purity with hints of mint and jasmine. A truly fine wine. Score:96/100

Mev Kirsten 2022 Stellenbosch
This wine is made from the oldest Chenin vineyard in South Africa, which was planted between 1905 and 1920 on decomposed granite. It offers a rich, textural composition with broad peach and pear fruit flavors. The wine balances its broadness and richness with fine, mineral tones, and slight spice and saline notes. There is a harmonious blend of power and freshness, nearly achieving perfection. Rated 98 out of 100.

Skurfberg 2022 Olifantsrivier
This wine is made from three old bush vine parcels, planted between 1940 and 1955 on the decomposed sandstone slopes of the Skurfberg. The flavors are fleshy and generous, but also rich. There is a fine balance between chalky, mineral apple and pear fruit flavors, concluding with a tapering mineral finish. The wine also offers delicate saline notes. Rated 96 out of 100.

Kokerboom 2022 Olifantsrivier
This is an old Semillon wine from high-altitude sandstone soils, planted in the 1930s. It presents lively waxy crystalline notes with delicate chalky citrus fruits and a hint of yellow plum and cabbage. It’s a fine quality wine. Rated 95 out of 100.

Palladius 2021 Swartland
This wine is a blend made from different vineyards and soils, featuring many different white grape varieties. The flavors are complex and rich, featuring nuts, wax, lemons, spices, and rich pear and peach fruit. The grain of the wine is very fine, with nice detail, making it a textural, classic, and refined offering. Rated 94 out of 100.

Pofadder 2022 Swartland
A unique variety of Cinsault deriving from the Riebeeksrivier farm, owned by the esteemed Ruperts. This wine comes interestingly from one of the few plots that is not directly farmed by Eben. The soil is notably 100% decomposed slate (80% decomposed, void of rockiness). Familiar shades of red, iron-rich soil unravel with a beautiful weight of fine red cherries and plums. The wine graces an ambiance of detail, along with an appreciative level of acidity, with its pulsating expressive red cherry core. Hints of smoke and minerals cavort into the surface, scoring at 94/100.

Treinspoor 2022 Swartland
This contemplative wine bursts forth with Tinta Barocca flourished from alluvial soils, and interestingly, planted as far back as 1974. The taste palette is nestled in a fresh, supple space, hosting a tasteful stretch of red cherry and plum fruit. Enjoy the graceful brightness and purity, coupled with a noticeable element of structure. The wine is expertly precise and linear, scoring comprehensively at 95/100.

Soldaat 2022 Piekenerskloof
Certainly, a unique blend of ungrafted and unirrigated old bush vine Grenache, proudly brought forth from Piekenierskloof. This specific vineyard, retaining dominance in sandstone, has gracefully aged for 46 years, standing tall at 708m. The wine gives a nod of acknowledgement to its 85% whole cluster, naturally fermented and soundly aged in concrete. A smoky, spicy entry grapples with a sharp edge of pepper fusing beautifully into the focused cherry and raspberry fruit. Expect a sappy, linear undertone with asprinkle of iodine notes and fleshy raspberry. A delightful note of cherry finishes, all in all, giving it a finesse of 95/100.

Columella 2021 Swartland
Serving as a grand salute to the first wine Eben ever created back in 2000. A rich mix of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault, Tinta Barroca from a pick of 8 vineyards. The wine exhilarates with sweet spices and red fruit aromatics gently teasing the nose. A fresh, linear palate seductively entwining with well-dispersed oak and a handful of fine spices. Sleek and concentrated with cherry and berry fruit. Eben pulled out a classic wine here that is full-bodied and destined to age wonderfully, scoring at 94/100.

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