Sadie Family Columella Red 2016
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
“I’m not scared of time,” says Eben Sadie, “because if you are, you’re afraid of structure in your wines.” This Columella bears him out. Blending Syrah with smaller amounts of Mourvèdre, Tinta Barocca, Cinsaut and Grenache, it’s not a particularly powerful wine at 13.5% but has incredible focus and energy, with a backbone of sinewy tannins, plenty of texture and a lot more to give in bottle. 2024-35.
On the nose, the 2016 Columella reminds me of sitting on the beach eating a bowl of blackberries and dark cherries. The nose has a structural rigidity with a firm mineral presence, which I typically get from the Northern Rhône. Once on the palate, the wine expands in the mouth, unfolding its layers, showing great complexity with a tightly structured grip. Medium-bodied, the complexity continues on to the finish, continually expressing new sensations, ending with fresh cherry skins with a long, taught finish. Very few wines show this elegance and mineral tension, alongside with the dusty freshness and vibrancy. Columella has always had a special place in my heart, and this is a fine example. You'll want to lay this down in your cellar for some time. I have the notion that it is going to age like a king. Impressive! Rating: 93+
The Sadie's two wines, Columella and Palladius, originate in the soils in the Swartland region, which stretches north of Cape Town between Durbanville and Piketberg, inland from the Atlantic Ocean, and centered on the town of Malmesbury. Importantly, the area has a remarkably stable climate, allowing a consistent level of quality each year, in subtly different vintage conditions.
Literally meaning "the black land," Swartland takes its name from the endangered, indigenous "renosterbos" (translating to rhino bush), which used to be plentiful enough to turn the entire landscape a dark color certain during times of year. The district, attracting some of the most adventurous and least interventionist winemakers, excels in robust and full-bodied reds as well as quality fortified wines.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.