Guru in die Gramadoelas


It’s not recorded whether a bright star appeared over Piketberg in the early 1970s when Eben Sadie was born. But Afrikaans playwright PG du Plessis did win the Hertzog Prize for Siener in die Suburbs that year. Which is quite auspicious, as Eben is a Guru in die Gramadoelas.

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At Claude Gilois’s (below) vertical tasting of Eben’s magisterial red blend Columella and precise Palladius held at Christoph Durand’s atmospheric winery in Heritage Square – formerly a blacksmith’s shop that supplied all the locks for Robben Island (how cool is that terroir!) – last night, the reason for the collapse of Andy Hadfield’s brave Real Time Wine smart phone app became as obvious as the callouses on Tim’s toes. You simply can’t say anything meaningful about Eben’s wines in 140 characters. Each one deserves a book. Or a poem. Or at least a rock anthem.

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WB Yeats had the measure of SA wine writing in the Second Coming when he wrote “the best lack all conviction while the worst of full of passionate intensity.” So keeping my passion for the bedroom, I can report that my favourite two wines of the tasting were the 2010 Columella and 2009 Palladius. They are also the two finest SA drops I’ve tasted this year and indicate the way forward for SA wine out of the dead-end of bulk exports and interweb discounting.

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It speaks volumes when this Bear from the Boland announces that his overseas trip on Sunday will be the first time he’ll be getting on to an aeroplane in 30 months. It’s a true tragedy that the most eloquent and passionated winemaker in SA has his public image filtered by the noisy channels communicating SA wine to the world. If Nederburg are looking for someone special to open their 40th auction this year, they should look no further than Malmesbury. And a commemorative JV wine made with Nederburg cellarmaster Razvan Macici makes mega marketing sense.

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A person who admits “I knew all the answers when I was 28. Now that I am 42, I only have questions” will inject a well needed dose of humility into an increasingly bombastic bunch of BS called SA wine reportage. So you see, Mark Norrish, I’m really not getting soft. I just need a flag to salute.