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jeudi, 10 juillet 2014

VERTICAL TASTING

VERTICAL TASTING OF PALLADIUS AND COLUMELLA FROM THE SADIE FAMILY WINES


Claude Gilois

We have already devoted an article on the Sadie Family wines and Eben Sadie, who is fast becoming the leader of a new generation of ‘vignerons’ dedicated to putting South Africa on the map of fine wine producing countries.    

The tasting was presented by Eben Sadie and took place in the cellar of Christophe and Sabrina Durand (Domain Dorrance), in the centre of Cape Town in April 2014.   His two top cuvées, Palladius and Columella, were tasted in vintages 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Eben Sadie requested that reds be tasted before whites as  he argues that whites are more difficult to taste, as, paradoxically, there is a greater extraction of tannins on white grapes and there is also more acidity that further complicates the tasting.

 

PALLADIUS

 

palladius.jpg

Is a blend of grapes that come from 13 different vineyards, all located on the Paardeberg mountain (the horse mountain) south-east of Malmesbury, 85% of the grapes in the blend are located in altitude.  The soils are poor, well drained and are mostly made from decomposed granite.  The other 15% of the blend comes from 3 different vineyards located on chalky soil. The grape varieties in the blend are: Chenin, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Clairette, Semillon Blanc, Semillon Gris, Palomino, Viognier, Verdelho and Marsanne. It is worth noting that Chardonnay was part of the blend until 2008, but was subsequently removed.

 

Grapes are picked very early in the morning and transported to the winery in refrigerated lorries where they are stored at 5-8oC for 24 hours.   The grapes are either destalked or processed as whole bunches and transferred into small vertical basket presses and pressed gently.  The juice obtained is then transferred into either large oak casks (foudres) or egg shaped concrete tanks or in oak barrels. Fermentation takes place only under the influence of endogenous yeasts,  and the wine stays on its ‘lees’ for 12 months. The different wines are then blended in large old wooden oak casks and kept for a further 12 months. They are bottled without fining and filtration and under vacuum to prevent premature oxidation. 

 

COLUMELLA

columella.jpg

 

This wine derives its name from the author of a book on viticulture during  Roman times, he stated that ‘wine must be excellent and must give pleasure from its own natural qualities’. The grapes come from 8 different single non-irrigated vineyards located in the Swartland region. The viticulture is entirely controlled by Eben Sadie and his team. The vineyards are mostly planted with Syrah with a small amount of Mourvedre and Grenache.  Yields are very small, between 15-18 hectolitres per hectare,  and the grapes that go into the blend are grown on a heterogeneous soil of decomposed slate, decomposed granite, clay soils rich in iron, quartzitic soil intermixed with clay and alluvial soils. 

 

The grapes are initially treated pretty much as the grapes that go into the Palladius blend.  Fermentation takes place in open fermenters of 2500 litres. Fermentation temperature varies from 24-28oC. The domains use pigeage to punch the cap down but there is no remontage.  Fermentation is followed by a maceration period of approximately 3 weeks. The must is then pressed in small vertical basket presses and transferred without pumping into barrels, of which no more than 15% are new, where it undertakes its malolactic fermentation for 12 months. It is then transferred into large old casks (foudres) for a further 12 months of maturation.  The wine is bottled without fining or filtration.

 

COLULLEMA 2008

 

At the stage, the wine is reserved, muted and the influence of the wood. It  takes away some of the spark of the fruit, though only 30% of new wood was used. It is difficult to get to the aromatics of the wine that exhibits some violet scents and spices centred on a core of red fruits. However, there is some good concentration on the wine, which is balanced but still under the influence of the wood. True, that Eben Sadie uses some of the best oak casks produced at the moment (T5 from Taransaud and Darnajou) that will impact the fruit in the early life of the wine. Let us hope it comes out of this difficult phase. Yields: 15-19 hectolitres per hectare. 15.5/20. 

  

COLUMELLA 2009

 

A lot more more’ish than the 2008 and with a purer and better aromatic definition. Spicy red fruits (strawberry and raspberry) with violet, tapenade and garrigue overtones. It is ripe and precise with ripe tannins. The new wood (10%) never dominates the wine, but it is there in the background to enhance complexity. It is less concentrated than the 2008, but it is better balanced and more elegant.  A very nice wine. Yields: 13-22 hectolitres per hectare.    16.5/20.

  

COLUMELLA 2010

 

Without any shadow of a doubt, the star of this mini vertical tasting. It is a fabulous wine in a great vintage from Swartland and South Africa in general. Highly complex aromatics with red fruits enhanced by spices (cardamom and star anise). The mouthfeel is great, seamless and matches the aromatics all the way. There is a slightly earthy component to the wine that contributes to its minerality. The tannins are ripe, smooth and balance the fruit harmoniously.  Yields: 14-18 hectolitres per hectare. 15.5/20.

  

COLUMELLA 2011

 

This wine is still on its primary aromas and is probably more European in style than previous vintages. The structure is less generous and more tightly knit. In the glass, the wine reveals classical aromas of red fruits, spices and garrigue, but they are less obvious than in the other vintages.  The malolactic fermentation has taken place before the alcoholic fermentation that should give the wine, in time, a broader aromatic spectrum. It is a wine difficult to approach at the moment and you have to project yourself to the future to try to see where it will go. It is probably the wine with the greatest keeping potential of all the series

Yields: 14-16 hectolitres per hectare. 16.5/20.

 

 COLUMELLA 2012

 

The wine had been bottled a month ago and was still very introvert and had difficulty to express itself. The wine is on the spices and on the Violet rather than on the primary fruit at the moment.  Very difficult to taste at this stage and Eben Sadie indicated that this Columella is probably comparable to the fabulous 2010. That, in itself, is promising.

 

PALLADIUS 2008

 

Beautiful golden yellow. Very dense wine,  borderline opulent. It is a wine that has fermented for 14 months which gives it an added aromatic dimension. It is a touch oxidative with some rancio aromas and flavours with sweet almonds and stony dry fruits. It is complex, very long, if a little atypical but you can easily become accustomed to these noble aromas and flavours.   Yields: 16-17 hectolitre per hectare. 15.5/20

 

PALLADIUS 2009

 

This is the best wine I have ever tasted in South Africa by a long stretch. Even Eben Sadie admitted that he did not think you could make white wine of this quality in South Africa. What a complexity in its aromas and flavours. It is reminiscent of quince, almond paste, aromatic herbs such a fennel and saffron. There is also a floral dimension to this wine (white flowers).  It was the first time that Semillon Blanc and Gris were added to the blend.

Yields 17 hectolitres per hectare. 17.5/20

 

 

PALLADIUS 2010

 

This is reminiscent of the 2008 Palladius with its tropical aromas and flavours. There are also some almonds, hay, spices and aromatic herbs. It is salty, refreshing and complex, it was the first time that Verdelho was added to the blend. There is no wood on the wine and it has been elaborated entirely in neutral vessels (concrete and clay). Less atypical than 2008 and more consensual. Yields: 18 hectolitres per hectare. 16.5/20.

 

PALLADIUS 2011

 

This is the first vintage of this wine to have undergone 24 months of maturation instead of the usual 14 to 16 months. It gives the wine an extra dimension in terms of aromatic complexity. It has also increased the saltiness of the wine and hence its drinkability. It is not without resemblance to the 2009 with, in particular, its herbal and floral components that gives the wine a lift. It is also more mineral than the 2009. It does not appear to be quite as good but it is not too far off. Yields: 12-15 hectolitres per hectare. 17/20.

 

PALLADIUS  2012

As with the Columella 2009 it was only bottled in 2012 so it is muted, subdued and introvert. If the 2011 resembled the 2009 then the 2012 is closer to the 2010. This wine is particularly spicy at this stage and has lovely sweet almond overtones. Everything appears to be in balance at this stage and the acidity is quite refreshing. It just has to  find a more complex aromatic profile that will come with time.

 

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