In March of 2017, Eben Sadie was named by the Institute of Masters of Wine the Winemaker’s Winemaker of the year. The winner of this award is chosen by a panel of winemaking peers that comprise all Masters of Wine who are winemakers, and the award’s past winners. Past winners included: Peter Sisseck of Dominio de Pingus (2011), Peter Gago of Penfolds (2012), Paul Draper of Ridge (2013), the late Anne-Claude Leflaive of Domaine Leflaive (2014), Egon Müller from Egon Müller Scharzhof (2015) and Alvaro Palacios (2016). Every single one of those names could have been argued to be the greatest winemaker in the country they work in, and every single one of them sell their top bottlings for hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars and are near impossible to get ahold of. Eben, however, remains a relatively undiscovered treasure trove of world class wine.
What makes Eben’s wines so special can largely be summed up in three points. First, he is obviously incredibly talented. The second, is that Eben has access to some of the greatest vineyards in all of the Southern Hemisphere, farming centenarian vines on the steep granitic slopes of South Africa’s Swartland. The third, is that due to his relative obscurity and the state of the South African economy, his wines remain shockingly affordable. Are you one of those people who remember buying 1st growth Bordeaux or Grand Cru Burgundy for less than $100? This is the circumstance that Eben’s wines currently inhabit.
As long time champions of Eben’s wines, we are bequeathed with a rather generous drop of these incredible wines, and this year we wanted to share a few of them with you, as well as some cellared examples that show another layer of why these wines are so incredibly exciting. On January 18th, we are going to be exploring the following wines from Eben, I hope that you can join us!
A blend of Semillon Bland and Gris planted in the 1930s from Henk Laing’s Trekpoort farm on Citrusdal Mountain. No herbicides or fungicides have ever been used on these vines.
Mev Kirsten 2017
Grapes for the Mev. Kirsten are from a decomposed granite vineyard (planted 1905–1920s) at the foot of Bothmaskop Mountain in Stellenbosch’s Jonkershoek Valley. It is recognized as the oldest Chenin Blanc vineyard in South Africa.
Eben’s flagship white wine, it is a blend of 11 different varieties from vineyards planted between 1935 through the present day.
The Soldaat comes from a single vineyard of Grenache in the Piekenierskloof. The unirrigated vineyard was planted in the mid 1960s at around 708 meters of altitude in decomposed granite soil with a slight easterly slope.
Treinspoor comes from a vineyard of Tinta Baroca planted in 1974 on decomposed granite and table mountain sandstone, on the western side of Malmesbury. Tinta Baroca is a grape more commonly found in the Douro Valley of Portugal, blended into port. Here it is vinified varietaly, making a wine that is something like a darker skinned Brunello.
Eben’s flagship red, made mostly of Syrah, but as the vineyards are quite old they are also interplanted with a small portion of Mouvedre, Tinta Baroca, Cinsault and Grenache.