"The most excellent wine is one which has given pleasure by its own natural qualities. Nothing must be mixed with it which might obscure its natural taste," observed Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella. This timelessly valid judgment appeared over two millennia ago, in Columella's treatise on farming, De re Rustica (‘On Country Matters'), the most comprehensive account of Roman viticulture. It is a fitting definition of a wine named to honor Columella, a wine carefully nurtured to express its origins in the soils of South Africa 's Swartland region, first made from the 2000 vintage.
Why an ancient Roman in modern Swartland? Columella, as mentioned earlier, was one of the most important writers on viticulture and vinification in early Rome . Through his work and direction, many grapes made their way up the Rhone — on whose steep northerly banks Syrah is now produced in its purest form. "And as syrah forms the basis of our wine," says Eben Sadie, "and as I am fascinated by Columella and admire his work and his understanding of viticulture — well, why not?"
A blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre, Southern Rhone varietals particularly suited to the arid climate of the rugged terrain of the Swartland region. Painstakingly crafted using time-honored winemaking machinery (basket press) and methodology (pigage), this wine is a bottled rendering of the very terroir from where it was created. The aim is to produce a unique and honest wine displaying minerality as apposed to more opulent flavors.
"This just gushes with exotic fruit--raspberry, boysenberry and fig--while staying juicy and vibrant thanks to the tangy mineral spine. Plenty of sweet spice notes also add dimension to the finish, which is rich and youthful. Drink now through 2011. 665 cases made."
"Deep red-ruby. Slightly roasted, spicy dark fruit and licorice aromas hint at surmaturite without losing freshness. Broad, large-scaled, very ripe and dry, hinting at licorice. Showing less fruit sweetness and detail today than the '04, but this seems rather stubbornly closed and the finish features substantial ripe tannins. Aeration brought a meaty syrah character. I'd forget about this for at least two years."
-International Wine Cellar 90+