I am going to conclude this series with one of the most misunderstood grapes of the mediterranean climate, Grenache. When over-cropped or grown in overwarm sites, it is blousy and hot. It can often taste overly sweet and lose nuance. Then there is the elegant side of Grenache that so rarely appears. Sadie’s old vine Soldaat is in the latter category.
Made from vines planted in the 1970s in the Piekenierskloof pass, the Soldaat weds savory minerality with lifted florals and bright red fruit in a balanced package coming to 13% ABV with only 2g of residual sugar. These characteristics derive from a few facts in the vineyard. vine age; unirrigated vines; 708m above sea level; and easterly facing down slope siting. There is a lot going on in this wine and, in my view, masterful Grenache is only made by a small handful of extremely talented winemakers. Sadie is in that club.
This bottling highlights the greatest qualities of Sadie’s old-vine series. None of the wines are ‘perfect’, but they are all extremely characterful and unlike wines from any other region. The single-variety wines allow drinkers to experience the unique expression of that grape in a region with which they are likely to be unfamiliar. When it comes to a grape like Grenache, the contrast between the typical range of flavours and what is on display here greatly helps to demonstrate how Swartland terroir differs from the rest of the world.
Conclusions on the Swartland Revolution
There are 24 producers in the Swartland today and yet only four of them can be found in North America right now. I have looked at each – AA Badenhorst, Mullineux, Sadie Family and Porseleinberg. Each presents outstanding wines with the unique stamp of the region. All the producers share a general philosophy that leans toward the ‘naturalist’ side of the spectrum and certainly eschews some of the more typical wine-making techniques such as enzyme additions, acidification, reverse-osmosis, etc. There is something important going on in the Swartland and in my view it is destined to become one of the highest quality and influential regions of the New World. I hope this spotlight has encouraged you to seek these wines out and discover for yourself why they are so exciting.