Top image: Stephan Claassen (FNB) Mari Branders. Juandre Bruwer (Diemersdal)
Less than one week after winning a major award for its Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2022, Diemersdal Estate saw the same wine emerging victorious at this year’s FNB Sauvignon Blanc SA Top 10 competition with a spot in the coveted top ten South African wines made from this grape variety. Last week the same wine secured a Double Gold medal at the Veritas awards, South Africa’s leading wine competition.
What is extraordinary about the showing at this year’s Top 10 showing is that this is the sixth consecutive year in which Diemersdal secured a spot in the winners’ list. A Sauvignon Blanc specialist, Diemersdal is a sixth-generation family wine-farm in the Durbanville wine region owned by the Louw family.
From 2017 to 2020, Diemersdal’s Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 awards went to the Winter Ferment, a unique wine made from Sauvignon Blanc juice frozen at harvest and fermented six months later, a process leading to a distinctive tropical fruit profile. Last year’s Top 10 award was won by the Diemersdal Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2021, an achievement repeated this year by the same wine, but from the 2022 vintage.
Thys Louw, Diemersdal owner-winemaker the sixth generation Louw family-member, says this year’s Top 10 Award shows that Sauvignon Blanc made to a manner in which the winemaker is only but the carer of the grapes, allowing the factors of terroir and vintage to control the end-result, will always come-up with the goods.
“The Sauvignon Blanc Reserve is made from two vineyards on Diemersdal growing on different altitudes,” he says. “One vineyard is 400m above sea-level – the highest on the farm – while the other is at 150m. Both are on decomposed gravel soils with a substantial clay component, providing the ideal degrees of drainage and water-retention. The influence of the nearby Atlantic Ocean, together with the soils and vineyards’ aspects, continuously provides superb Sauvignon Blanc fruit from these two sites from which the Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc Reserve is made.”
Louw says that Diemersdal’s commitment to dryland viticulture plays a major role in the consistent quality of the estate’s wines. “There is no irrigation on our farm, and never has been – except for lawns and flowers,” he says. “Vines live better and are more in-tune with their natural environment when they only have rainfall to rely on for water. For us it is all about the vineyard, and it is the vineyard that makes the Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc Reserve.”
The ideal conditions of the 2021 growing season played a factor in the quality of this year’s Sauvignon Blanc on Diemersdal. “We saw a reasonably cool wet winter in 2021, followed by a perfect growing season with the stages of bud-break, berry-set, veraison and ripening occurring evenly,” says Louw. “The vineyard gave us the wine, and the Sauvignon BlancTop 10 competition gave us the Trophy!”
Louw says the Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 Awards, which attracted 161 entries this year, does a sterling job in promoting South Africa’s best-selling wine variety. “What is important here is that the Top 10 competition proves that wines that are popular with consumers can also be wines of exceptional quality,” he says. “It is with no doubt that I say that the Top 10 competition has played a major role in elevating the profile of South Africa’s quality of Sauvignon Blanc wines among the wine-drinker. And for us winemakers, the competition allows a platform on which we can judge ourselves next to our peers as well as getting together to ensure South African Sauvignon Blanc reaches even higher levels in terms of quality.”