Monday, February 13, 2012

I met David Sadie in 2010 when I joined a Wine Tasting Group in Stellenbosch. It is quite an interesting group consisting mainly of winemakers from the Stellenbosch region. With a lot of chirping and friendly banter I immediately stirred things up a bit in the group because of my blog and comments regarding Platter and various other issues. David has been one who I felt is an open-minded and passionate winemaker with ambition to do something great. When I started looking at doing my own thing he was also one of the first winemakers I contacted to see what the opportunities are to help him and Lemberg Estate.
David has what it takes to put Lemberg on the map and really make it one of the gems in Tulbagh.

Tell us a bit more about yourself and how you ended up here?
I grew up in the Swartland and studied Oenology and Viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch.  It was during this time that I met my wife, Nadia, now a qualified soil scientist and viticulturist.
In my final year of studies (2006) a harvest at Waterford Wine Estate in Stellenbosch set the standard for quality and the focus on detail in my career. A follow up harvest  after graduation was the obvious choice. Directly after the South African harvest in 2007, I went to New Zealand for a harvest in Marlborough at South Pacific Cellars who makes Lake Chalice, Cape Campbell and Delta wines. Returning home, another two month working period followed at Waterford Wine Estate after which I went to France, St Emillion to work my third harvest for the year at a Premier Cru, Chateau Quinault. During the three month harvest period and travels in Europe thereafter, the tasting of Mediterranean cultivars and regions had a lasting experience on my thoughts and palate. Returning home for a few days of rest, I started at Rustenberg Wines in Stellenbosh in January 2008. After seven great months at Rustenberg Wines, I moved on to a warmer region, Tulbagh, working as assistant winemaker at Saronsberg Wines for almost three years.
I joined Lemberg Wine Estate in the 2011 harvest as Winemaker and Viticulturist and also to assist with Marketing.

Why did you become a Winemaker? To farm, to grow, to harvest, to make, to age, to bottle and to taste crafted wines.

Any favourite Grape Variety you work with or something you really want to work with? Chenin blanc, Viognier, Pinotage, Shiraz, Grenache Noir.  I would really like to work more with Roussanne.

What time of year is most special to you…working with the grapes when they come in during harvest or tasting/blending the wines when you feel it’s ready to be bottled? All year long, I’m just very impatient to get from harvest to bottling and eventually the wine in the market.

Every Winemaker in South Africa with a bit of passion and a dream to be different want to be talked about. What would you like people to say about your wines and your winemaking talent?
Mmm…modesty first for me, balanced!! I don’t do a lot of small talk, so it is great to hear people appreciating the wines as we indented the wines to be. Basically, the honesty and freshness. Difficult question: In short, that people appreciate our wines for the way it was produced; natural, honest and fresh.

Lemberg Estate is much older than people think, but can be seen as a new entrant to the market. What excites you most about this position?
Well, there are older South African wine drinkers that still know Lemberg for what it was and I think it is important to bring them something sentimental and classic about Lemberg, hence the replanting of Hárslevelű on the farm. As for Lemberg as a new entrant and thus brand in general South Africa, the canvas is ours to be painted…

 The Estate is planted with about 9ha of vineyards and will never be a big volume producer, but do you see this as a positive or negative?
The key is to supply smaller and bigger markets within our “small” setup by producing one or two wines which are more accessible and affordable for many, but also to make wines which are boutique and quality driven, enough so to be appreciated by the connoisseur. Being small does have its challenges, but all well worth it.

This year (2012) will be your second one as Winemaker here at Lemberg Estate. Looking at the vineyards and where we are now before harvest, what are your predictions for Vintage 2012?
I predict a slightly later vintage than the previous one. Overall quality and yields are good, grapes healthy and I think it might be a smaller and more concentrated harvest.

What would people NOT know about David Sadie? Passion outside winemaking, hobbies etc etc. My biggest dream ever was to play professional rugby, but due to a neck injury in 2005, this dream was shattered. This year I would like to do more kayaking and take up mountain biking as I love the adventure. Currently I am reading Around Africa on my bicycle by Riaan Manser which inspires me to greater heights. I do timber-work from time to time.

What do you think the SA Industry should focus on more to grow our market share on the International stage. Something that you think is very unique to our Industry?
I believe that if we stand together as region, showcasing and marketing our wines together, everyone will benefit. I also believe that we should stop the negativity within our own industry and rather be humble and work together.

Outside of South Africa, which Wine Region/Country do you look up to and why? Southern and Northern Rhône valley in France and the Lanquedoc-Roussillon

If you have the opportunity to visit the Tulbagh Valley you must be sure to book a tasting with David. Lemberg Estate is open for tastings and most importantly also on Sundays! Tulbagh is a very popular destination for Weddings so now you know what to do before the ceremony starts J and I am talking about you as a guest not bride or groom!!