Diemersdal Ends 2020 on Record High with Veritas and Platter’s Accolades

Top image: Diemersdal team at Veritas. From left are Thys Louw, Mari Branders and Juandré Bruwer with Christo Pienaar, Veritas chairman.

Diemersdal Estate in Durbanville can record 2020 as its most successful year in the pursuing of wine accolades. The estate, which has been in the Louw family for six generations, ended the 2020 awards season with two Double Gold medals at the annual Veritas Wine Awards, South Africa’s most authoritative and most competitive wine competition. The medals were awarded to Diemersdal Winter Ferment Sauvignon Blanc 2020 and the estate’s Pinotage 2018, a wine in its premium The Journal range which was launched earlier this year.

In the week leading-up to Veritas, Diemersdal received three accolades from the annual Platter’s Wine Guide. Here, Diemersdal was awarded three 5 Star Ratings, the guide’s highest honour, one each for the The Journal Sauvignon Blanc 2019, The Journal Pinotage 2018 and Diemersdal Reserve Pinotage 2019.

Thys Louw, Diemersdal’s sixth generation owner-winemaker, says the accolades accrued by the estate lent a silver lining to what was a grey cloud of a year for the local wine industry due to the Covid-19 crisis.

“This year South Africans showed that we are resilient when it comes to celebrating the achievements of our wine industry,” says Louw. “Despite the lock-downs, the temporary halting of liquor sales and general disruption caused by Covid, the country’s winemakers continued making wine and competition organisers went to great lengths to keep honouring the industry’s top-achievers. Diemersdal is honoured to end the year on a high, with tremendous achievements at the Veritas Awards as well as our three 5 Star ratings in the Platter’s Wine Guide.”

Diemersdal played to its strengths this year, with Sauvignon Blanc – the estate’s signature grape variety – and Pinotage, a cultivar that has been part of the farm’s Durbanville soils for generations – garnering the ratings and awards.

The Winter Ferment Sauvignon Blanc 2020 not only won a Veritas Double Gold, but also took the Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc at this year’s Michelangelo International Wine&Spirits Awards, as well as securing a FNB Top 10 Sauvignon Blanc Trophy. The same wine also won the trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc at the SA National Young Wine Show.

Only four years after its maiden release, the Diemersdal Winter Ferment Sauvignon Blanc has become a cult South African wine, topping the winners’ list at each year’s awards ceremonies. “It is amazing to think that this wine began as an experiment,” says Louw. “I froze Sauvignon Blanc juice during the harvest of 2017 and thawed it six months later, upon which vinification followed. The result of this process is a wine with intense thiol characters, giving it a tropicality normally associated with the Sauvignon Blancs of New Zealand. We always knew this wine was going to be different and talked-about, but its award-winning ways continue to surprise us.”

The other Veritas Double Gold for Diemersdal went to The Journal Pinotage 2018, the same wine that won Diemersdal its ninth Absa Top Pinotage Trophy this year. Pinotage has a long history in Durbanville and on Diemersdal specifically, where the oldest unirrigated Pinotage bush-vines are 45 years-old.

“Like all our wines, the Pinotage is made from dryland vineyards ,” says Louw. “We have never irrigated our vines on Diemersdal and believe that the intensity of the fruit offered by these hardy plants and their adaptability to the vagaries of climate offer intense expression of terroir in all our wines.”

Louw is a firm believer of the role played by ratings and accolades. “Awards are deemed important for two reasons,” he says.

“Firstly, they allow a producer to pit itself next to its peers in terms of how the wines are seen by panels of independent, skilled adjudicators. And secondly, accolades are an important guide for the wine consumer when it comes in making his or her purchase decision. Results may sometimes be contentious and not deemed absolute, but achievements at shows guide the consumer to wines that bear the guarantee of having been selected as winners by various wine experts. You might not agree on award results, but something all winemakers agree on is that the consumer is the most important aspect of the wine world.