Adi Badenhorst is one of the most refreshingly open and vibrant people you will ever meet. He is the polar opposite of stuffy or pretentious and embodies the free spirited, convivial, work hard play hard mentality that might fool you into thinking he’s not serious. Au contraire. Wine runs through his blood. His grandfather was the farm manager at the famous Groot Constantia winery and his father farmed neighbouring vineyards. Adi’s career as a vigneron began at the age of 13 and has been evolving ever since by way of stints in South Africa, Bordeaux, the Rhône, New Zealand and in 2008 he and his cousin bought an old farm with an abandoned cellar and he’s been giving full expression to his creativity, his ideas, his talents and his personality ever since.
Beneath that irreverent sense of humour lies a philosophy that sums up what quality winemaking is all about. The greatest wine regions of Europe are based on the fundamental premise that the wines faithfully express their provenance – the wines simply could not have been made anywhere else, they somehow bear the DNA of the region. This same philosophy is what Adi is all about. He’s from the Swartland in the Western cape of South Africa and he is ‘making natural wines in the traditional manner’ that express their origin. Adi is one of the founding members of the Swartland Independents; a group of winemakers who are committed to making wines that bear the hallmark of the region, that express their ‘Swartlandness’ if you will. They have found that certain grape varieties are particularly well suited to expressing Swartland conditions (grapes that include Syrah, Grenache and Chenin Blanc to name just a few) and any blend must comprise at least 90% these varieties. Members are also committed to winemaking that protects the natural fruit expression as much as possible (which in effect means they don’t mess about with them).
Adi lives on his farm amongst his gnarly old bush vines that have been around for decades and are producing some fantastically good quality fruit. He lives there with his wife Cornelia and his two young children who clearly get roped into the various tasks dad throws at them. All that foot stomping doesn’t happen by magic.
Secateurs Chenin Blanc 2014
£9.99 / €14.75 Offer Price £8.49 / €12.53
A dry, flavoursome white wine with body and texture. South Africa has been churning out high volume, low quality Chenin Blanc (or Swartland Steen as it was known) for donkeys. This is the opposite. Delicious, uncomplicated, with great purity of fruit.
Secateurs Red Blend 2012
£10.35 / €14.99 Offer Price £8.79 / €12.74
Cinsault, Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Pinotage hand-picked from their own farm and the neighbour’s and crushed together in old concrete tanks and fermented naturally. Adi says it’s like an arranged marriage in those tanks – a little awkward to start but they soon warm up and get along a lot better. The grapes are foot stomped twice a day (often roping in tourists and schoolchildren – willing free labour is clearly greatly appreciated) and once fermented the wine is run off into old casks and concrete vats. It’s only bottled when things have settled in nicely and everyone’s getting along famously. Again, ridiculously good value for money red that sings of those sunny climes with ripe red fruit flavours and lovely perfume and smooth texture.
£9.95 / €14.95 Offer Price £8.49 / €12.70
The latest addition to the Secateurs range for us. A fruity little number that will be flying off the shelves in summer (or that glorious 2 week period around Easter). Made from a blend of red grapes that have been very gently handled to extract just enough colour and flavour. The wine has great purity of fruit and minerality from those old vines. It has aromas of mixed red fruits, some spice and rose, a generous palate and a long textured finish.
A.A. Badenhorst Family Red 2010
£19.75 / €26.99 Offer Price £16.79 / €22.94
A blend of Shiraz, Grenache, Cinsault and Tinta Barocca from the family farm and selected parcels in the Paardeberg area. The grapes are meticulously sorted in the vineyard and picked by hand with only the best fruit making it into the blend. The grapes are fermented using natural yeasts and kept on the skins for 6 months. The wine is pressed and then transferred to old 4,000l casks for 16 months before blending and bottling.
This is a dense wine with brooding aromas of pepper, liquorice, perfume and black cherries. The tannins are prominent but well integrated and the palate is very well balanced with concentrated black fruit flavours and a long finish. Will continue to evolve comfortably for a decade.