Diemersdal’s Famous Eight Rows Shows Class of 2020 Vintage

Diemersdal Estate, the well-known Sauvignon Blanc producer in Durbanville that has been in the Louw family for six generations, has just released the 2020 vintage of its Eight Rows Sauvignon Blanc, one of South Africa’s best-known and most awarded wines made from this variety. According to Thys Louw, winemaker-owner of Diemersdal, this Eight Rows 2020 reflects a classy vintage for white wine, characterised by even-ripening and mild temperatures during the harvest season.

“This was a great year for Sauvignon Blanc,” says Louw. “From bud-break in spring last year temperatures were mild, and towards the end of the growing season – just before Christmas – we had a cooling dollop of rain. Even bunch ripening led to balanced wines, with the Eight Rows Sauvignon Blanc showing pronounced minerality along with classic varietal expression.”  

Diemersdal Cellar Team 2 Diemersdal’s Famous Eight Rows Shows Class of 2020 Vintage
Diemersdal Cellar Team: From left – Thys Louw, Mari Branders, Janeke Beck and Juandré Bruwer.
 

The origins of the Eight Rows goes back to 2005 when Louw arrived as wine-maker on the family farm after his studies as well as having completed internships at various other Cape estate’s. His father Tienie, however, initially restricted Thys’s ambitions by permitting him to only make wines from eight rows of one Sauvignon Blanc vineyard to see whether Thys was up to the task.

The rest is history: the wine proved to be of superb quality from the start, and today is still made by Thys from the same eight rows as that first vintage in which he had to prove himself. Although today Thys is fully in-charge of Diemersdal, responsible for wine-making, viticulture and managing the estate’s 200ha of vineyards.

The vines for the Eight Rows grow on decomposed granite and clay soils found on south-facing slopes where the effects of the nearby Atlantic Ocean are felt.

diemersdal scene low res Diemersdal’s Famous Eight Rows Shows Class of 2020 Vintage

Like all vineyards on Diemersdal, the Eight Rows is made from dryland vineyard. “This was the first vineyard I worked with when I came to farm at Diemersdal in 2005,” says Louw, “and since then I have been convinced that for top-quality Sauvignon Blanc, dryland farming in cool climate conditions delivers South Africa’s best wine from this variety.”

The grapes were night harvested at 23.5°B, crushed and de-stemmed reductively. Skin contact of 24 hours was given where after the juice was pressed and settled for 36 hours. Fermentation took place over three weeks at temperature controlled to 12-14°C.

Post-fermentation lees contact of five months was allowed, the lees stirred up once a week to enhance mouth feel and concentration. The wine was bottled unfiltered.

The 2020 Eight Rows is characterised by a strong core of minerality, from the flinty elegance on the nose to the wet gravel expression on the palate. A rounded mouth-feel exudes nectarine and Kiwi-fruit, balanced with fresh acidity on the finish. 

“All-in-all a seamless wine where all the components are in balance – this being the most important word in the wine maker’s lexicon,” says Louw. “Each of our Sauvignon Blancs have a unique profile due to the site-specific selection of grapes growing on a diverse selection of terroir. The Eight Rows is especially known for the refined Sauvignon Blanc characters as well as the polished texture of the wine. There is weight and presence, with freshness and zest at the same time. Something only these eight rows of vines present in this manner, making it a signature wine with a character of its own.”