This particular wine picked up the “White Wine of the Year” in the 2010 Platter’s South African Wine Guide and winemaker Eben Sadie is one of the countries hottest winemakers garnering rave reviews wherever I seem to look…..and the wine rocks.
Eben Sadie produces his wines in the town of Malmesbury in Swartland….a region to the North of Cape Town. Eben previously made the wines at Charles Back’s “Spice Route” project before leaving in 2000 to pursue his own project.
There is a lot of detail to his winemaking…. the vineyard are farmed biodynamically…the yields are tiny and the grapes are harvested by hand and arrive at the winery in small crates. The soils here are a combination of granitic material and gravels.
The Palladius is a bit of a fruit salad of a wine…..it’s a blend of Chenin Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Clairette Blance, Viognier, Chardonnay and Roussanne. The grapes are hand sorted and pressed in an old basket press directly to barrel without settling. The Chenin Blanc and Viognier are fermented for up to 4 days on their skins before being pressed off to barrel.
The wine sits in a combination of of old seasoned French oak and concrete eggs….the oak barrels are 500L and the concrete, egg-shaped vessels are 600L….the stay here on their lees for 18 months. The movement of the wine is all carried out by gravity and in the case of this particular wine the fermentation took 14 months to complete.
It’s the best white wine I have seen out of South Africa by a fair stretch showing great clarity, detail, tension and balance. There’s a fair tip of the hat to the wines of Burgundy in its structure and shape in the mouth but what impressed me was the purity and freshness the wine retains while showing great complexity across the palate….length too with a finish that seems to fan out for a considerable time.
Medium straw gold in colour with a pure and intricate nose showing aromas of lemon, grapefruit and stone-fruits with hints of dried honey, baking spice, clotted cream, jasmine, marzipan, vanilla bean, minerals and chamomile. Floating further in the background are light hints of butterscotch and herbs. It’s a lovely smelling wine with great clarity and definition.
In the mouth the texture is impressive with lovely weight and a gorgeous mouthfeel as the wine glides across the palate. Citrus fruits in the shape of lemon, lime and grapefruit join forces with ripe peach and nectarine with hints of butterscotch, granite, nougat, marzipan, grilled nuts, spice, herbs and jasmine. There’s a layered complexity to the wine….intricate and filigreed….nothing poking out too much….everything in its place.
Rich and a pleasure to drink….plenty of honeysuckle and nutty nuance with a fantastic line of mineral-laden acidity that seems to focus the flavours further before they hit the back palate with a swoosh and a lengthy, persistent exit tinged with a touch of meal and grilled nuts. Wicked stuff and if you need to find a benchmark South African white wine….look no further.
Price: $120 – Closure: Cork – Alcohol: 14.5% – Source: Sample – Importer: Eurocentric Wine