Fine Wine Safari Vertical Masterclass with David & Nadia – Tasting Elpidios Red Blend 2011 to 2017…

While David Sadie has made a serious name for himself with his single vineyard Chenin Blancs and his white blends, he is of course a crafty expert with red varieties like Grenache, Syrah and Carignan, blended together in his classy red called Elpidios.

On David’s last trip to London, we cracked open a lovely little vertical of his Elpidios with his importer Justerini & Brooks. “Syrah is the most important grape variety for the Swartland… the next range of wines I feel tell our story the best” David told the guests, addressing the table in front of a delicious vertical of the Elipidios from 2011 to 2017.

David Sadie… a giant not only in winemaking circles.

This Rhône-inspired red blend from David & Nadia was interestingly a Syrah based red blend from vintages 2011 to 2014, a Carignan based red blend in 2015 and 2016 before changing to a Grenache based blend in 2017. “This wine feels like a tip of the hat to a more experimental mindset that I love to attribute to the Swartland.” ~ David Sadie

David & Nadia Elpidios Red Blend Vertical:

David & Nadia Elpidios 2011, WO Swartland,14% Abv.

3 barrels. Earthy, brambly, cheese cloth notes with supporting notes of tar, black olive, cured meats and black berry fruit. Very northern Rhône in character, this wine is fresh and vibrant, layered with boiled red berries, sweet black currant, granitic grainy tannins and a long, fresh, crunchy, sleek old world finish. Very classy indeed.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

David & Nadia Elpidios 2012, WO Swartland,14% Abv.

A more savoury, richer, earthy aromatic profile with sun baked red berry fruits, sweet plum, creamy plum confit, red liquorice and a stony, piquant graphite finish. Slightly stewed, but again a very old world Rhône style.

(Wine Safari Score: 91/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

David & Nadia Elpidios 2013, WO Swartland, 13.5% Abv.

A darker expression with plenty of bramble berry fruit, black plum, saline cassis reduction, sweet black berry, sweet black plum, graphite and soft, dry powdery tannins. Acids are soft and finely integrated making for a well rounded, brambly wild finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 92/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

David & Nadia Elpidios 2014, WO Swartland, 13.5% Abv.

Beautifully perfumed lifted nose with pink flowers, red cherry zest, cranberry and sour red plum. Palate is very fresh, pure and crystalline with Parma violets, red berry crunch, red forest berries and an alluring brambly finish. Polished, satin tannins and a long vibrant finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

David & Nadia Elpidios 2015, WO Swartland, 13.5% Abv.

Carignan based wine. Lifted perfumed nose of black berries, graphite, black kalamata olives, cured meats and sweet peppercorns. Tightly coiled, focused compact texture, super polished texture with enticing spicy red cherry concentration, glassy acids, bramble berries and sweet / sour plums. Very serious effort from a great vintage. Still super youthful.

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

David & Nadia Elpidios 2016, WO Swartland,13% Abv.

Lovely saline cassis and black berry aromatics, sea breeze, iron filings and bloody meat. The palate is fuller, grippy and rustic with black olive, wildness, sweet grilled herbs and sweet red plum, black olive, bresaola meaty finish. Fine effort in a very hot, dry vintage.

(Wine Safari Score: 92/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

David & Nadia Elpidios 2017, WO Swartland, 13% Abv.

Interesting lactic, red cherry, meaty, red currant nose with plenty of spicy, pithy, plummy depth. Superb elegance, classy old world granitic mineral tannins, fine grip and tension but fabulous length and concentration. Intense, vibrant and focused. A very fine effort showing not only the quality of the 2017 vintage but the influence of a growing Grenache proportion.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

David & Nadia Hoe Steen Old Vine Swartland Chenin Blanc Proves Its Pedigree Yet Again…

David Sadie was born and bred in the Swartland and studied viticulture and oenology at the University of Stellenbosch. It was there that he met and later married Nadia, a qualified soil scientist and viticulturalist. Together, they have crafted some of the most profound wines coming out of South Africa. 


I became acquainted with the single vineyard wines a few years back when David was making 3 different versions. Last year, the 2015 Hoe Steen Chenin Blanc trounced all before it in the annual Decanter Magazine Blind South African Chenin Blanc Tasting, scoring an eye watering 98 point consensus with all three judges. Well yes, I was one of the three judges and I stand by my score, blind or sighted.

With David Sadie and my fellow 98 point Decanter Magazine judge, Tim Atkin MW

Sadly, the 2015 stock disappeared like a small rain puddle evaporating in the midday heat of the Karoo dessert. But what do you expect when only just over 300 bottles or one barrel were produced. In 2016, David bottled two single vineyard wines, the Hoe Steen and the Skaliekop Chenin Blanc. 

Made from dry land farmed bush vines planted in 1968 on decomposed granite based soils with Koffee Klip and Quartz on top, on the western side of Malmesbury. The grapes were wholebunch pressed using minimal sulphur during the short cold settling for the juice before being wracked into barrel for spontaneous fermentation and malolactic fermentation. The wine ages for around 12 months in two old 400 litre French oak barrels. In 2016, production was upped to a massive 530 bottles. pH 3.41, RS 3.0 g/l, TA 5.5 g/l, total SO2 127 mg/l.


David & Nadie Hoe Steen Chenin Blanc 2016, WO Swartland, 13.39 Abv.

Like many of the 2016 Chenin Blancs, this wine displays more subtlety, restraint, elegance and finesse with a slightly more refined, fine boned structure than the big, broad, intense 2015 expressions. The nose is more delicate and soft spoken, showing white peach, crunchy green pear, tangerine peel, fynbos, baking herbs, and incredible dusty, crushed granite mineral lift. The palate is electric and fresh with a dry lemon, rasping mineral intensity, subtle smoky reduction and picante spice notes. Like the 2015, there are beautiful, beguiling saline maritime notes that spar with the bold zippy acids. This vintage is all about speaking intelligently with authority and sophistication rather than preaching in a loud, punchy, doctrinal style. The extra restraint, twinned with balance, harmony and inner core tension make for another profound Chenin Blanc expression. Drink now or keep for 8 to 15+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 96+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Visiting David Sadie in the Paardeberg to Taste His New Swartland Releases…

There is probably never going to a better time to visit David Sadie at his leased winery on the Paardebosch Farm in the Paardeberg where he produces his David & Nadia range of Swartland Wine of Origin wines. After all, it’s not everyday one of your wines scores 98/100 points twice in close succession, in this case, his Hoe Steen Single Vineyard Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2015 grown on decomposed red soils with granite.


After smashing the scoring meters at Decanter Magazine’s blind Chenin Blanc tasting, this same wine cracked another individual 98 points and a “White Wine of the Year” title from journalist Tim Atkin MW in his 2016 South Africa Report. Despite only one barrel being produced in 2015, it highlighted what is possible with this fabulous variety in the right hands.


David’s leased cellar is snug but seems to deliver the goods. In 2017 around 86 tons were crushed, with many of these grapes coming from vineyards being managed in a more organic viticulturally orientated style. The famous Skalie Kop vineyard is only one hectare and the Hoe Steen two hectares. Expectations are of course greater than ever, but giant of a man David Sadie is up to the challenge, ably assisted by Andre Bruyns, another accomplished wine maker.


Aristagos White Blend 2014, 13.5 Abv.

Chenin Blanc / Roussanne / Clairette Blanc / Semillon. Complex spicy dusty slatey mineral nose, with green peppercorns, incense, yellow fruits, green tea, green apples and waxy peaches. Full and beautifully round, the palate is fleshy and harmoniously creamy textured with real breadth and pithy yellow stone fruit complexity, finishing with hints of stem ginger, aniseed and fennel leaf. Drinking beautifully at the moment.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Aristagos White Blend 2015, 13.5 Abv.

Chenin Blanc / Roussanne / Clairette Blanc / Semillon (skin contact). Dense waxy nose that’s a touch broody and tight to begin. Develops spicy notes of apple purée, incense, dried herbs, lemon grass spice and savoury baked apples. The palate tantalises with a steely determination, more tension and focus than the 2014, and massive dry extract concentration and fruit length. Yellow peaches, pineapple pastille and aromatic yellow citrus fruits leave their mark. A seductive mineral laden white that will benefit from further ageing. 

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)


Aristagos White Blend 2016, 13 Abv.

Chenin Blanc +- 50% / Roussanne / Clairette Blanc / Semillon 10-12%. Another dry vintage that saw very low yields and earlier picking to preserve acidity resulting in lower alcohols in general. This wine is already very aromatically expressive showing waxy incense, bruised red apples, yellow peaches, and pineapple pastille opulence. The 2016 incorporates the fleshy, harmonious breadth of the 2014 with the tension, intensity and linearity of the 2015, finishing with beautifully cool, stoney yellow fruits and a dry mineral expression. Immaculate balance. A great success for the vintage. Seek this wine out! 

(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Some of David Sadie’s new(ish) large foudre that he’s replacing barriques with.

Other wines tasted…

Sadie Pinotage 2016, Siebritskloof, 12.8 Abv. From two single vineyards. Dark Broody nose, leafy, sappy black plum and black berry fruits. Partial large oak aged portion. Fine sleek polished texture, cool and elegant. Impressive focus and tension but also a beautifully precise finish with sappy sweet tannins, crunchy berry fruit concentration and a saline, briney twist.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Looking out of the cellar past the Paardebosch Farm paddocks towards Adi Badenhorst next door.

Elpidios 2015 Red Blend

Carignan / Syrah / Cinsaut / Grenache / 10% Pinotage (24+ year old bush vines on granite). Very spicy, perfumed savoury black berry fruited nose. There is a real mineral dusty granitic Swartland authenticity here. Lifted and fragrant, the palate is packed with black berry, black plum, and spicy peppery black olive tapenade complexity. Again, lovely balance and harmony with impressive textural breadth and depth but also a fairly tight, linear finish. This wine, out of all David’s reds, always benefits from several years ageing before starting to show it’s true potential.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Taking the gravel road to the Paardebosch Farm in the Paardeberg