I first came across the Sadie Family Columella in 2006 when I had dinner with a senior member of the Wines of South Africa association (WOSA). There were only 3 of us at the dinner, but for the life of me, I can’t remember the name of the gentleman now. But the bottle of Columella he brought to dinner stuck in my mind. Back then, the Sadie Columella was only well known in South Africa and the more developed UK/Europe market. I had never heard of this wine before, even though at that time I was regarded as a Singapore expert in South African wines. Simply because I was one of the very few merchants bringing in premium wines from the country.
Sadie Family Wines is located in the Swartland region. In terms of recognition, Swartland falls behind Stellenbosch, Constantia and Paarl. The region was originally “famous” for robust, high alcohol, harsh red wines made by cooperatives and often bottled simply as cape blends. However, over the years, small, family owned wineries have bucked the trend with wines of concentration yet perfectly balanced. Sadie Family is at the forefront of this transformation from cheap plonk to vino excellence. The Columella is South Africa’s most sought after wine with fever high ratings from the world’s top wine critics. The production is really small and a lot of it are presold by wine merchants to their favourite clients. The wine is hardly available in the secondary market.
We are therefore very lucky to get our hands on 12 bottles of the Sadie Columella 2006. The Columella is a blend of Syrah and Mourvedre. Stylistically, it is closer to the Rhone blend than the Australian GMS (Grenache, Mourvedre Shiraz). The wine is dense and firm with some earthiness and tarry structure. The wine is nicely balanced with cherry and plum fruits, together with spice, and complete with smooth tannins. There is a slightly oxidative note that adds a positive steely character to the wine.
All things considered, the Columella is a ripe, pure and elegant wine that shows the best of South African wines. If you like a top dry red wine with a rounded palate and subliminal finish, this is the wine for you. It’s definitely worthy of space in your cellar.