Received wisdom has it that the first SA cult wine was Eben Sadie’s Columella, launched quite soon after he discovered an authenticity in the Swartland out of which to craft a new aesthetic for Cape wine. There’s no disputing that this message — initially of place and more recently of old vines in ancient earth — redefined what was possible and worth pursuing in the world of SA wine.

But was it really the first? It put the Swartland on the map, and established the notion that the vineyards are a kind of shrine to the connection binding man and nature in time. But visiting the newly launched Taaibosch estate — the property we knew as Cordoba — on the upper reaches of the Helderberg, I realised there was at least one certain predecessor. It was Cordoba Crescendo, the Cape’s original “geek” wine, a vinous statement the following of which vastly exceeded the volume produced in the brief period between its incandescence and its demise...

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