South Africa’s emergent Swartland wine scene nested somewhere near the center of my cultural and intellectual wine curiosity ever since tasting a bottle of Sadie Family Vineyards’ Palladius more than a year ago. Understanding why Swartland consolidates a disproportionate share of the most interesting and compelling wines South Africa has to offer became a personal mission not too different than a bad itch needing a good scratch. How does a country like South Africa, with a long and storied wine making history, end up producing so much unremarkable wine out of its de facto Cape wineland centers of Franschoek and Stellenbosch while a few maverick winemakers shift 45 minutes north and west and immediately start producing the country’s most captivating portfolio of Chenin Blanc and Rhone style wines, kicking dust all over the status quo?
I found economic, natural, and human interest answers and launched an entire set of new curiosities last week tasting with, and interviewing, some of Swartland’s most notable winemaking pioneers right in their own backyards. Most importantly, an overwhelming majority of Swartland wines I tasted deserve regular appearances in all serious wine enthusiasts’ drinking regimens. Over the next weeks I will paint a fuller Swartland story here and at Palate Press, but for now I just want to introduce you to Adi Badenhorst who runs his own Secateurs and A.A. Badenhorst programs from a signature Swartland hilltop farm he acquired in 2007. While Adi is just one piece of the Swartland winemaker fabric, joined by the likes of David Sadie, Eben Sadie, Chris Mullineux, and Craig Hawkins, he epitomizes the thumb to the nose, do it “my way”, pioneering, radical but humble, and unconventional attitude fueling one of the most significant modern day regional winemaking upheavals.
Here is a slice of Adi, who incessantly underplays his very own vision-fueled winemaking mastery, overplays irreverence, and underscores the rear view mirror perspective that Swartland winemakers use to triangulate their course from an edgy perch that will undoubtedly serve to cement South Africa on the world wine stage. The short video snippet offers Adi’s view on Sauvignon Blanc vis a vis Chenin Blanc, Jerry Springer, chewing toe nails, fat Americans, truth in labeling, and more. But the best way to understand Adi Badenhorst is to find and buy his wines….you will be blown away by the quality, authenticity, and uniqueness that $17-$35 can buy. Enjoy Adi.