Top image: Diemersdal owner-winemaker Thys Louw (middle) with Christo Pienaar (left) from the SA National Wine Show and Juandré Bruwer, Diemersdal winemaker.
The ground-breaking Winter Ferment Sauvignon Blanc from Sauvignon Blanc is turning out to be one of the South Africa’s most awarded Sauvignon Blancs after only three vintages on the market. This wine last week achieved its third consecutive FNB Top 10 Sauvignon Blanc accolade for Diemersdal Estate, the pioneering Sauvignon Blanc producer from Durbanville, an achievement followed by it winning a Double Gold at the prestigious Veritas Wine Awards over the week-end.
This revolutionary wine-style from Diemersdal won its first FNB Top 10 in 2017, the year of this wine’s maiden 2017 vintage, repeating the achievement last year, with this year’s FNB Top 10 selection for the Winter Ferment 2019 making it three consecutive wins. The same wine took Double Gold at Veritas a few days later.
Sponsored by FNB and presented in conjunction with the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group, the FNB Top 10 Sauvignon Blanc Competition annually selects South Africa’s finest renditions of the country’s leading white wine variety. Veritas is the country’s prestigious wine competition and this year attracted over 1 400 entries from all over the country.
Diemersdal Winter Ferment is made using a revolutionary wine-making process where the Sauvignon Blanc juice is frozen during the harvest in February and then thawed five months later, after which it is fermented to produce a wine with exceptional tropical flavours. This process of winemaking was pioneered in the country by Diemersdal’s owner-winemaker Thys Louw, one of South Africa’s leading Sauvignon Blanc specialists.
“The FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 remains a very special award for Diemersdal as it is the only one committed to exclusively honouring the finest Sauvignon Blancs in South Africa,” says Louw.
“Close on 200 wines were judged this year, and to make it among the Top 10 is a highlight for any producer in this category which is the most popular white wine segment of the South African wine industry. And the Veritas Double Gold is simply the top aim of any winemaker. These two awards in one week are deserved recognition for our winery team’s spirit of innovation and commitment to quality, while underscoring our belief that Durbanville has the ideal climate and soil compositions to produce world-class Sauvignon Blanc.”
Louw added that 2019 has proved to be an excellent vintage for Sauvignon Blanc, despite the drought the Western Cape had experienced in the year leading up to the harvest.
“The warm winter was followed by a mild spring, but with the dry conditions things were not looking all that favourable for quality Sauvignon Blanc – especially seeing as one of Diemersdal’s features is making wines from dryland vineyards,” says Louw. “Our clay soils, however, allowed the little moisture there was to sustain the vines’ roots, which was aided by the temperate weather conditions experienced during the harvest.”
Louw says the FNB Top 10 continues to grow in importance due to the commercial success and value of Sauvignon Blanc in a wine industry where many producers are facing economic pressure.
“The reason the consumer likes the variety, is because it is easy to understand,” says Louw. “When buying a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, whether it costs R60 or R600, there is going to be an element in that wine to which the wine drinker can relate, something in the flavour profile he or she can understand… freshness, balance between fruit and acidity, a pleasure to drink.”
Louw says that that Sauvignon Blanc also has the potential to make major inroads for South African wine into export markets, especially the sought-after American market.
“The global demand for and awareness of Sauvignon Blanc is at an all-time high,” he says. “In South Africa Sauvignon Blanc outsells other white varieties three-to-one. Already South Africa exports over 19m litres of Sauvignon Blanc in packaged form, and with our recognition for world-class Sauvignon Blanc growing, we have the chance to increase this exponentially and make real global mark – not only for Sauvignon Blanc, but also for Brand South Africa.”