After years of work in Priorat and the founding of Terroir al Limit, Eben Sadie has returned to his roots. To put it in his own words: "A winemaker should make wines in his region of origin. Where he should know the terroir best." The wine world has some heroes, and Eben Sadie is one of them.
Eben graduated as an oenologist in Elsenburg (South Africa). There he became integrated by the vine: a plant that offers so much diversity, 5000 varieties all over the world. Sadie traveled the world for 8 years, working both in companies that make 6 million liters of wine annually and in companies that only produce 6 barrels. He ended up in Germany, France, Spain, Austria, Oregon and California, before returning to his native South Africa. There he is now counted among the new guard winemakers who want to give the New World a better reputation.
He settled in Swartland (1999), a new wine region for South Africa. At the same time, he resolutely broke with the New World custom of making wines from a single grape variety: he chose blends of complementary grape varieties. He based the reason for this on a sober analysis: "All over the world, wines from different grape varieties are made in a Mediterranean, southern climate, while wines from a single grape variety mainly occur in a continental, more northern climate.
Most countries there enjoy a Mediterranean climate, but they still started making wines from one grape variety: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and so on. This was successful in the beginning, because it was new and because the grape variety was strongly placed in the foreground. But you don't make really great wines with that. As a result, the New World scores well in the lower price ranges, but is not seen as a supplier of great wines. I want to change that."
Sadie immediately put his vision into practice. He planted the grape varieties that give the best results in the southern Rhône region: Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. 43 ha spread over 48 different plots, biodynamically treated and processed. He also managed to discover numerous old vineyards, restore them and give them a new lease of life (Ouwingerd series). And just like in the time of Terroir al Limit, he gave the wines individuality and provided them with his own signature, that of refinement.
The Swartland region extends north of Cape Town, between Durbanville and Piketberg, inland from the Atlantic Ocean, with Malmesbury in the middle. The region has a very stable climate, which means that a very consistent quality can be achieved every year. All grapes come from non-irrigated vineyards located in the Swartland region. Eben Sadie is a wine philosopher in many ways. As a result, he uses many old techniques in combination with experiments.
For example, he ferments parts of his wine in large concrete 'eggs', Stöckinger foeders, amphorae and he uses wooden barrels that have not been toasted. He has also started an experiment with fermenting in jars made from the soil around the winery and buried during the fermentation. This technique is very old and originates from the Balkan region.