2017 Sadie Family Swartland Pofadder - Cinsault - South Africa. 750ml
Old Vine Series. 13% alc. In the 1920s Cinsault was the most planted red grape in South Africa, yet as it’s one of the more fickle vines to work with, and to vinify, the variety suffered a fall from grace post-WWII. It’s only very recently that, with growers such as Sadie and Chris Alheit leading the charge, the ‘Pinot Noir of the Swartland’ has been reborn. The results are revelatory. Pofadder is a pure Cinsault, cropped from a parcel on the Kasteelberg Mountain planted in 1973, where the soils are composed of slate and decomposed shale. Pofadder is Afrikaans for a puff adder, the type of snake known to inhabit this terroir (and indeed claimed the life of a vineyard worker in the 1940s). Hence the name. Sadie is a champion for old vine Cinsault in the Cape but he concedes that this is his vineyard, and wine, that needs the most care. Controlling yields, bunch and berry sorting and then protection from oxidation in the cellar. In the end, yields come in below 30 hl/ha! The whole bunches are placed in an old wooden, open-top fermenter, with one or two-foot stomps each day to release juice for fermentation. After a month on skins, the grapes are then transferred to a tiny basket press and pressed directly to an old wooden cask for ageing.
The resulting wine is a gloriously pure and ethereal ode to both variety and region. The ‘17 is a racy, perfumed and juicy wine. Sadie told us that it was the kind of wine you can drink for breakfast– while we get what he means, it’s really a bit too special for that! Expect lifted scents of mulberry, white strawberry and pink grapefruit leading to a superfine, crunchy fresh, red-fruited and spicy palate and a long, salty close.
“The 2017 Pofadder is pure Cinsault fermented in concrete tanks and conical foudres for 12 months. It has a clean, precise bouquet of tart red cherries, black currant leaf and a touch of chai tea. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, crisp acidity, gentle grip and a slightly brittle-textured but very penetrating, beautifully defined finish. I agree with Eben that this is one of the most elegant Pofadder I have tasted.” 95 points, Vinous, August 2018