Deep ruby color; red fruits, followed by black fruits with earthiness, graphite throughout on the nose; plum, blueberry, black cherry, strawberry, earth on the palate.
Dry; soft tannins; good acidity (3.58 pH). Medium body. Field blend of syrah, mourvedre, cinsault, grenache, tinta barocca. The wine ferments in open concrete tank for three weeks, followed by maceration for another three weeks. Pressing takes place in a traditional basket press, followed by transfer to barrels (5% new) for malolactic fermentation.
The wine spends one year on the lees in tight-grain French oak (5% new). It then is racked in big, oval foudres for an additional year of maturation on fine lees. After two years of maturation, the wine is bottled without fining or filtration. That age and time on lees produces soft, smooth, delicious, extraordinarily easy drinker with some complexity, but mostly smoothness and fun approachability, including a touch of phenolic sweetness on the finish; 13.5% ABV.
Eben Sadie, a former surfer, is credited for putting Swartland—where this wine is made—on the map. He founded his winery in 1999 and released his first wine the next year. His website bio doesn’t hold back: “Eben Sadie has been described as an enfant terrible and is considered to be one of South Africa’s first certified celebrity winemakers as well as ‘one of the greatest and most original winemakers in the southern hemisphere.’”
Further: “Following a period as a surfer, Eben travelled and worked the world’s wine regions (including Germany, Austria, Oregon, California, France & Spain). Eben takes incredible care in the vineyards and everything is done by gravity and hand. Concrete and wooden open fermenters are used. The wines are matured in large, old foudres and or concrete casks with minimal intervention. The goal is to allow the wines show their truest character and sense of place. As Eben says ‘It’s a very pure way of producing the wine’.”
The winery produces about 3,500 cases of wine each year. Major labels are Columella (this red blend) and Palladious (a white blend). He also has an Old Vine Series consisting of eight old vine parcels in the most historic and oldest vineyards in South Africa. Each of those wines carry Afrikaans names—Skurfberg, Skerpioen, Voetpad, Kokerboom, Mev. Kirsten, Pofadder, Soldaat and Treinspoor.
Sadie Family Wines Columella 2016 is a very tasty, very approachable South African field blend of red wines from Swartland. Melange of red and dark fruits with plenty of subtly from two years aging on the lees in very restrained oak. Product of noted South African winemaker. This works sipped by itself. Pair with all sorts of meat dishes, although I would refrain from very rich beef efforts; lamb; comfort foods for sure—meatloaf, hamburgers and sliders, meat lovers pizza, pasta with red sauce and ground meat. $95-113