Despite their newfound success, they are still a small-scale operation, tinkering with a few barrels of this and that from remote vineyard sites dotted around the Swartland, but we have bagged ourselves enough to be able to offer a mixed case of the new releases. These wines represent the ‘New Wave’ of South African winemaking, a move towards elegance and purity and away from richness, concentration and the spicy effects of new oak (note that none of the alcohol levels, including the reds, exceed 13.5%). They are surprisingly light (the Grenache, in particular, is as pale as a Pinot Noir), preferring to articulate the character of their terroir through the clarity of the fruit.
Situated about an hour’s drive north of Stellenbosch, the Swartland is South Africa’s most exciting wine region. No, I’m being coy. Swartland is the world’s most exciting wine region. It’s impossible to think of anywhere experiencing more of a buzz right now, with a more collaborative and pioneering spirit among its producers, with a greater pride in its region and with more potential stored away in its vines - extraordinary old vines with so many more yet to be discovered.
It’s where you will find the most inspirational winemaker I have met in all my years in the wine trade, the all-baffling brain that is Eben Sadie (no relation), as well as being home to such colourful characters as Craig Hawkins, Adi Badenhorst, Callie Louw and Chris and Andrea Mullineux, who have spent years pushing boundaries with fanciful blends and experimental techniques and setting the bar so high that the new crop of winemakers have had to clamber onto the shoulders of these giants just to get noticed.
It would be fair to say that David and Nadia Sadie aren’t the biggest personalities in the group. They don’t have the messianic magnetism of, say, Eben Sadie, who hasacolytes hanging off his every word. They go about their business without any razzle–dazzle – Nadia as the qualified viticulturist and soil scientist and David as the winemaker – producing wines that, in their words, “focus on linear lines, freshness and texture”. David is a Swartland boy by birth and a member of the Swartland Independents by inclination (as opposed to dogmatic fundamentalism), preferring to interfere as little as possible with the best fruit available. Barrel fermentation is used for all their wines, but always with barrels that are more than four years old, which he describes as “one thing we do very differently from the older generation." It’s a hands-off style of winemaking that allows the character of the region to shine through, which is just how this understated couple would have it, and the result is a fantastic range of grown-up, complex wines with bags of character and they are really worth getting to know.