2020 Sadie Family – Die Ouwingerdreeks, Tinta Barroca “Treinspoor” Swartland, South Africa.
The latest Treinspoor Tinta Barocca, by Eben Sadie is, as the previous versions I’ve had, deep in flavors, lively by nature and full of complexities, dark garnet and ruby hued with floral lilac bouquet, a fresh mineral intensity on the palate, again showing concord grape, black currant, plum and kirsch fruits, plus an array of spices, dried snappy herbs, crushed stones, sticky lavender and lingering tart pomegranate. I am profoundly moved by these Sadie Family wines and they continue to impress me greatly and while sensuous efforts, they have a serious impact (grip) adding savory, partial whole cluster and stemmy/earthy notes and a seductive textural quality. Sadie notes that he feels Tinta Barroca has the personality of Nebbiolo and the aromatics of Syrah, with myself adding that it reminds a bit of old vine Carignan and or Mencia (think Raul Perez) too. Tinta Barroca is a thin skinned and fickle Portuguese red wine grape, with good acidity and loads of tannin, that is grown primarily in the Douro region with some plantings in South Africa, as seen here by the famous Eben Sadie, as well as Adi Badenhorst of AA Badenhorst, another version I love, and in the Riverland wine region of Australia, which I’ve never tasted. In Portugal, as well documented, it is most commonly used as blending grape in Port wines, while in the new world regions it often made into a mono-varietal wine, though sometimes blended. The vine was thought to have been introduced to the Douro region of Portugal back in the late 1800s and was employed in the cooler areas as it sunburns easily and can thrive in vineyards planted on north-facing slopes there. I must say, as much as I admire vintage Port, there is no question in my mind that the most compelling Tinta Barroca wines are these South African single varietal wines, and this one in particular is mind blowing and age worthy, I only wish I had been smart enough to buy a full case or at least 6 bottles to cellar another 5 to 10 years!
This unique old head trained vineyard is located next to the old railway line (treinspoor) hence the name of the wine here by Eben Sadie, who has really elevated the wines of South Africa over the last 15 years and who’s wines are mentioned in the same breath as the legends of Burgundy, like Rousseau, Pacalet and Mugnier, as well the Rhone greats like Jamet, Graillot, Rayas and Dard & Ribo, with his signature red blend Columella being one of world’s greatest wines. For his Treinspoor, which is 100% bush vines Tinta Barocca grown on, what Sadie says, is Alluvial stony soils with sandstone, granite and quartz, in Swartland’s Malmesbury area, which is influenced by proximity to the Southern sea, but sees plenty of harsh South African sun. These old vines vines have developed, as Sadie explains, a canopy framework to keep the bunches nicely sheltered from the intense Swartland sun, making for a wine of stunning purity and dynamic force, as this vintage shows off fantastically well. Sadie also, in his own words, translated, makes clear that Treinspoor 2020 is the result of 10 years of working the golden threads we could read in the makeup of this variety, or in my words, unlocking its very best expression to date. Going on he continues that the spicy, mineral, graphite and earthy characteristics in his Tinta Barroca are flowing into a river of tannins and textures, and his Treinspoor has almost no start nor any end. The winemaking is natural and the grapes were native yeast fermented with 50% whole clusters and 50% being de-stemmed and the maceration on the skins, in vat, lasts about a month, but with gentle bucket overs, with Sadie mentioning that it is very easy to over-extract Tinta Barocca, since the grapes hold an abundance of tannins. After being pressed, using an old basket press the wine is aged just about 11 months and in, what Sadie calls 28-year-old conical wooden casks that do not impart any overt wood flavor, before an extra month or so in cement tank, to promote transparency and terroir. As I’ve proclaimed and shouted loudly, these Sadie wines need to be on your bucket list, with high recommendation of this wine, the old vine white, and the mentioned Mourvedre and Syrah based Columella.
($69 Est.) 95+ Points, grapelive