Spotlight on the Swartland Revolution: Sadie Family Old Vine Series Skurfberg 2013
South Africa has built a brand for its Chenin Blanc, but very few have the interest and character of the magnificently old-vine Chenin from Swartland. Sadie’s Skurfberg is made with very old Chenin Blanc vines from the organically farmed sandstone soils of three vineyards of the Skurfberg, which means “rugged mountains”. The wine shows the potential for richness and depth of such craggly geezers.
The Competition for Quality: Blends vs. Single Varietals
A consistent theme for me is that blending generally produces superior wines to single varieties in Swartland. While I think the 100% Chenin here is extremely characterful, it lacks some structure and elegance compared to Sadie’s masterful white blend Palladius. I feel the same for Sadie’s 100% varietal red wines vs. the blended Columella (though it is dominantly Syrah).
Sadie himself has affirmed this belief when discussing the three types of soils in the three main sub-regions of Swartland: Paardeberg, Riebeek, and Piketberg (which I discussed in the last post in this spotlight). In Sadie’s view to make a truly Swartland wine all three vineyard regions and the varieties suited to them should be brought together.
What this wine does do is give a transparent glimpse to the character of Swartland Chenin and its incredible potential for complexity.