Sadie Family Wines Treinspoor 2016
Sadie Family Wines Treinspoor 2016, Swartland, South Africa
(c. £35, Lay & Wheeler, Noel Young, Uncorked, Hedonism, Handford, Philglass & Swiggot & more via WineSearcher)
First things first: this is a wildebeest of a wine. It’s wild – no domesticated decorum here. It has almost animalistic tendencies in its floral, wild berry and hung meat aromas, as well as its firm, fleshy and grippy flavours and textures.
But then – what can you expect from old-vine Tinta Barroca grown in Swartland and made by one of South Africa’s most high-profile ‘rock star’ winemakers, Eben Sadie?
An adventure, is what, and that’s exactly what you get. But this wine doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Currently in South Africa there is a movement afoot to rescue and champion the Cape’s old vines, a great source of diversity and wine heritage but which are at risk of being grubbed up as farmers consider them un-economical or too much like hard work. It was started in part by Rosa Kruger, a viticultural consultant whom I met when I was in the Cape a few years ago, and whose work is invaluable.
I tasted this wine as part of the Old Vine Project, a formal new initiative to continue Kruger’s work and keep these old vines in the ground while also fostering new plantings that will, in their turn, also stand the test of time. That means working on many fronts: from educating growers in how to maximise yields to promoting the existence and quality of these wines to the wider world. Hence the tasting – according to André Morgenthal of the Old Vine Project, ‘maybe the biggest and most ambitious old-vine tasting ever held’.
According to Morgenthal, there are around 2,640 hectares (ha) of vines older than 35 years in the Cape. Of these, around half are Chenin Blanc but, in total, there are around 35 different varieties of old vines. And this is just what is known about. Morgenthal estimates that around 80% of these old vines are within the co-op system, whose members are obliged to sell to their cellar or face financial penalties. The challenge is thus to help people realise the quality and potential of these old vines both in South Africa and abroad.
The other challenge for Morgenthal is to keep the Old Vine Project afloat financially. The project has received initial seed funding but is unlikely to attract much public sector support. It’s undoubtedly a hugely worthwhile initiative and one that will benefit South African wine enormously. Potential donors take note. In the meantime, the rest of us can continue to enjoy the wines, which are seriously impressive – particularly the whites.
(NB: I tasted the 2016 vintage of this wine but the above merchants are listed for the 2015.)
(Peter, 8/10, June 2017)
Other impressive old-vine wines from South Africa
Bellingham Wines Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2016, £13
Darling Cellars Old Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2016, £15.99
Kaapzicht 1947 Chenin Blanc 2016, £20
David and Nadia Chenin Blanc 2016, £25
DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2016, £29
AA Badenhorst Golden Slopes 2016, £35
Albeit Vineyards Radio Lazarus 2016, £65
Reyneke Biodynamic Chenin Blanc 2015, £18
Botanica The Mary Delany Collection 2015, £25
Dewaldt Heyns Family Wines Weathered Hands Chenin Blanc 2013, £18
Leeuwenkuil Heritage Chenin 2013, £25
Adoro Naudé Old Vines Chenin Blanc 2013, £28
Alheit Cartology 2015, £35
Beaumont Family Hope Marguerite 2014, £21
Mullineux & Leeu Family Old Vines White 2014, £19
Sadie Family Voetpad 2016, £35
Boutinot Aquifer Semillon 2015, £11
Boutinot Percheron Old Vine Cinsault 2016, £7
AA Badenhorts Raaigras 2016, £35
Meerendal Heritage Block Pinotage 2010
SWEET & FORTIFIED
Klawer Villa Esposto Straw Wine 2016, £10
Spice Route The Amos Block Perpetual Reserve NV, £25