I visited South Africa a couple of weeks ago ready to embrace whatever the local wine scene served up. Curious and relatively uniformed, I tasted both good and marginal wines. Out of conversations with local producers and trade, I noted definite instances of commitment to farming and wine making styles geared to produce honest, quality wines unique to their specific Cape Peninsula roots. Head and shoulders above all else was the 2008 Palladius, a mind twisting white wine blend from Sadie Family Vineyards.
We lunched at Reubens (19 Huguenot Rd, Franschhoek) where the pork belly preparation trumps the finest char siu outside Hong Kong, and our sommelier suggested that if I could only drink one white wine during my Cape visit, it needed to be Palladius. It is made in Malmesbury, in the Swartland region of the Peninsula….a top growing region from my tasting experiences. The recommendation was so much on the mark, that I can easily claim Palladius as unique and good a white wine as I have tasted, from anywhere in the world, over the last year. In doing a little post trip research, I see that others have had similar experiences in their own exploration of Cape wines. As example, Alder Yarrow at Vinography had a similar epiphany in 2008 which you can read about here:
After about 10 hours of doing nothing but tasting wines, I had learned a thing or two about South African wine, the wine regions, and the various styles of wine currently being made throughout the country. I had also tasted some very good wine, a few excellent wines, but sadly, none that thoroughly wowed me. The country did not seem to make truly world-class wines that could compete with the best from other countries….then I tasted the wines made by a young winemaker named Eben Sadie, and everything changed.
Alder provides good color on Eben, his background and experience, vision, and the winery portfolio so I suggest you check out the post. Platter’s named Sadie Family Vineyards top winery in their 2010 guide and selected 2008 Palladius as South African white wine of the year as well. It is a blend of grapes that is not indicated on the label. There is Grenache Blanc, Chenin Blanc, I think Rousanne, maybe Viognier, and possibly more. Whatever the specific blend, the wine is a knockout and very, very special. It has a thick and rich mouthfeel, with amazing balance and elegance for a wine packing so much, and offers evidence of fig, honey, lime, and herbs in a silky full delivery. The finish lasts for minutes.
I strongly recommend finding some of this wine. The 2008 does not seem to be available in the US yet. Here is a link to find the 2007 vintage, and I would suspect that these and other retailers will be stocking the 2008 soon. Keep an eye out. It is a wine to chase after.