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Adi Badenhorst, South Africa: “maybe not the world’s best wine, but the most natural”

Four wines from Badenhorst Family Wines with winemaker and owner AA Badenhorst

“I may not make the world’s best wines, but the most natural” was Adi Badenhorsts opening line. And so it is, bunches are not destemmed, the wine ferments with natural yeasts and the only additive is a little sulphur. He says he cannot afford machinery. He says he cannot afford the certification of organic wine. And sometimes he does not tell you quite the whole truth.

Andre Adrian (Adi) Badenhorst studied in Elsenburg, that has graduated oenology students since 1894. 80% of South Africa’s winemakers have studied there. He has worked for few vintages at Chateau Angelus, and in the northern Rhône Valley and also on Wither Hills in New Zealand. Adi has also spent time at Simonsig, Steenberg and Groote Post in South Africa. Most recently he was for nine years winemaker at Rustenberg, one of South Africa’s most prestigious vineyards.

Adi Badenhorst of AA Badenhorst Family Wines

Adi Badenhorst of AA Badenhorst Family Wines, copyright BKWine Photography

So when Adi says that he makes the best wine he can do, it gets a completely different weight with that background. Winemaker’s are very passionate professionals and he is no exception. However, there is probably no one who so consistently positions himself as just an average guy, when the truth is that he’s an incredibly talented winemaker.

Adi and his cousin Hein bought a rundown farm in the Swartland with very old vines in 2008. The grenache vines are the oldest in the region and were planted in 1951. The youngest vines are already 35 years old and many are more than 50 years old.

Swartland landscape in South Africa

Swartland landscape in South Africa, copyright BKWine Photography

The farm is 60 hectares big. Half of the land is currently used for production. In total they produce about 200,000 bottles per year. The grape harvest is at about 300 tons. The soil is granite with good drainage and without irrigation it gives a mineral character to the wines.

There are many different varieties on the property and he experiments a lot. Different varieties are vinified together and are mixed to a cuvée with some other grapes also vinified together. When talking about this information becomes strangely sparse, but the wines talk all the more.

Fermentation in open concrete vats at AA Badenhorst

Fermentation in open concrete vats at AA Badenhorst, copyright BKWine Photography

Wines like none others

Badenhorst Family Wines produces red and white wine in two different ranges, Secateurs and Family Blend.

Secateurs Chenin Blanc 2014 (~13 euro, estimates based on Swedish retail prices)

100% Chenin Blanc bush vines (gobelet). The wine has a rich and distinct Chenin Blanc character with tropical fruit, honey, wet wool and arrack with elegant acidity. A well-balanced wine with an incredibly low price.

Secateurs Red Blend 2012 (~15 euro)

Shiraz 55%, cinsault 32%, Cabernet Sauvignon 4%, tinta barocca 4%, pinotage 2%, mourvèdre 1%, Carignan 1% and Grenache 1%, fermented together in concrete vats and aged in 1200 litre barrels called foudres.

Medium-red colour, fresh, red berries fragrance with some of barrel, interesting shiraz style with cool climate notes, a very generous “entry level” wine.

AA Badenhorst Secateurs red and chenin blanc

AA Badenhorst Secateurs red and chenin blanc, copyright BKWine Photography

Badenhorst Family White Blend 2013 (~23 euro)

Chenin Blanc 35%, Grenache blanc 10%, Roussanne 9%, Viognier 9%, verdelho 8%, marsanne 8%, Grenache Blanc 7%, clairet blanc 7%, Palomino 5% and Chardonnay 2%.

Golden yellow colour, fruity aroma with chenin blanc notes, yellow apples, white flowers, herbs and a gentle hint of barrels. Long finish with balanced acidity. A very fine wine.

AA Badenhorst Family Wines Red

AA Badenhorst Family Wines Red, copyright BKWine Photography

Badenhorst Family Red Blend 2012 (~23 euro)

Shiraz 75%, Cinsault 12%, Tinta Barocca 7%, Grenache 3% and Mourvèdre 3%, which does not seem quite accurate according to the winemaker, who calls it a Shiraz-Grenache-driven cuvée.

Medium red colour, full bodied and fruity nose with blackberry, pepper and charcuteries dominating, complemented by red fruit and acidity from the Grenache. It is a both powerful and sophisticated wine that has an unusual freshness due to a relatively early harvest.

The crazy grape blends have in no way come to be by chance even if that is the impression that Adi wants to give. The wines are, just like the winemaker himself, 100% authentic and faithful to their Swartland terroir.

The tasting was organized by the importer Vinovativa.

Mikael Karlin writes för BKWine Magazine on wine tastings and wine events in Sweden.

Adi Badenhorst has his vineyards in the Swartland, a remote but beautiful wine region in South Africa that has recently, deservedly, come into the limelight. Swartland, and maybe AA Badenhorst, is on BKWine’s wine tour program to South Africa in March. Come with us to discover South Africa’s exciting wines, delicious food and beautiful scenery on the wine tour in March. You will be travelling with both Britt and Per.

Travel to the world’s wine regions with the experts on wine and the specialist on wine tours.

A wine tour with BKWine; an unforgettable wine and culinary experience.

AA Badenhorst winery in Swartland

AA Badenhorst winery in Swartland, copyright BKWine Photography

Swartland landscape in South Africa

Swartland landscape in South Africa, copyright BKWine Photography

Signpost at AA Badenhorst Winery

Signpost at AA Badenhorst Winery, copyright BKWine Photography

The Swartland Revolution in a glass

The Swartland Revolution in a glass, copyright BKWine Photography

AA Badenhorst winery offices

AA Badenhorst winery offices, copyright BKWine Photography

This post is also available in: Swedish

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