Space prevents me from listing all of them, but this remarkable Swartland white is made from 11 different varieties, including Chenin Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Verdelho, Palomino, Marsanne and Roussanne, spread across 17 different sites. Peach, pear and lime flavours are beautifully melded on this more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts white, with gentle oak spice and a thread of acidity that runs through the wine like a cool underground stream. 97 points, Tim Atkin MW, South Africa Special Report 2020
Sadie’s signature white is a blend of all 11 of Swartland’s official white varieties, with old, bush-vine Chenin Blanc playing the principal role. The idea is to produce a great white that represents the overall terroir of Swartland (as much as this is possible) and to use all the permitted varieties. As a result, this is harvested from 17 separate vineyard sites, with the full list of grapes taking in Grenache Blanc, Clairette Blanche, Viognier, Verdelho, Roussanne, Marsanne, Semillon Blanc, Palomino and Colombard, as well as the hyper-rare Semillon Gris (which plays a key role in Sadie’s Kokerboom and ‘T Voetpad old vine cuvées). Scattered thought the Swartland, most of the vineyards are rooted in decomposed Paardeberg granite (although four parcels lie on sandstone) and qualify for old vine status (35-plus years with the oldest vines planted in 1935). The younger fruit comes from Sadie’s own plantings, although even here the yields max out at 22 hl/ha.
The fruit was sorted and pressed in a traditional basket, directly into clay amphoras and six concrete eggs. The wine finished fermenting in its own time (which can take up to 20 months) after which it went to large wooden foudre for maturation before being bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Throughout the season, Sadie’s major goal is to “try and get the maximum volume of compact fruit and texture together with the best potential volume of acidity and freshness.” That’s something he has unquestionably achieved here, with the breadth and texture setting Palladius apart from the from his old vine series whites. Unlike those wines, this relies less on the acidity (although the ’19 is higher than usual), instead harnessing a deep phenolic freshness that structures the wine. Sadie continues, “Over the past five years Palladius has been the wine that gained most in quality and refinement and much of this has to do with the addition of more vineyards and the improvement of their viticulture.” It’s a white of Talmudic complexity; the kind of wine you can sit on for hours pulling apart.