Eben Sadie is considered one of the great preservationists and visionaries in the new generation of South African winemakers. The wine writer Neal Martin recently called Sadie an “outspoken, peripatetic, terroir-obsessed winemaker who has been instrumental in putting Swartland on the map. He produces a small portfolio of comparatively expensive, but highly coveted wines based on Rhone varieties sourced from his seemingly never-ending search for pockets of old bush vines and unique terroirs. These are cerebral wines built to age.”
2019 Columella is the 20th bottling of what can only be described as a discovery. The incremental growth of Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsaut and Tinta Barocca in the final blend has contributed much and more so on the depth and complexity of tannins. The wine has taken on many dimensions and interpretations and responses to the terroir we farm for this wine. The 2019 vintage is as harmonious as any wine can hope to be at this stage of its life.
Individual berries are hand sorted in small “strawberry” cases. Fermentation takes place spontaneously in 3300 litre open concrete fermenters for about three weeks at a temperature of 24 °C/ 75 °F and is then followed by a post-fermentation maceration of another three weeks. No additions are made to the fermenting wine. Pressing takes place in a traditional basket press and the wine is transferred to the barrel (5% new) for malolactic fermentation. The wine spends 12 months on the lees in tight-grain French oak barrels, just 5% of them new, and is then racked into big oval casks (foudres) for an additional year of maturation on the fine lees. After two years the wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered.
The wine exhibits finely trimmed perfumes and violet notes, bright red fruit with spicy characteristics that immediately spill over into some of the most refined tannins we could capture at this point.
"The second of “the drought years” to be bottled. Picked slightly early to deal w/ drought. Fermented in open concrete vats; no additions. Basket pressed. Aged 12 months in 8% new oak and 1yr in old foudres. No fining or filtration. The wine exhibits finely trimmed perfumes and violet notes, bright red fruit with spicy characteristics that immediately spill over into some of the most refined tannins we could capture at this point." - 100 points - Tim Atkin
"Impeccably balanced and gorgeously seductive on the nose the 2019 Columella is a steadfast crowdpleaser with succulent red fruit tones that waft with elegance and fitness before flaunting bright red florals. Medium to full-bodied the palate is stunningly impressive with nimble weightlessness across the mid-palate before showcasing power and finesse through layers of complexity. The wine somersaults to an epic finish that continues to linger in the mouth with persistence. Absolutely stunning" - 96 points - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate