Diemersdal: A South African Sauvignon Blanc Specialist

The Diemersdal winery is a major producer of South African Sauvignon Blanc, one of the most planted grape varieties in the country. It’s located in Durbanville, close to the west coast and north of Cape Town along with other top Sauvignon Blanc producers like De Grendel, Meerendal, and Nitida. We recently visited Diemersdal to tour the vineyard and taste its large portfolio of Sauvignon Blanc wines. Our reviews can be found below.

The Diemersdal estate originated with a 1698 land grant from Simon van der Stel, and records indicate wine was being made there by 1702.  The Louw family purchased the estate in 1885, and, today, the 6th generation of Louws manages the vineyards and winemaking operations.

Sauvignon Blanc is a relatively recent variety for South Africa, first planted in the late 19th century.  It took off in the 1970s after virus free material became available, and today represents one-fifth of all white variety plantings. Diemersdal is one of the most important producers with Sauvignon Blanc representing about half of its 200-hectare plantings, mostly of clones 315, 316 and Weerstasle.

Thuys Luow leads the winemaking team at Diemersdal, which produces a wide spectrum of Sauvignon Blanc wines from its dryland farmed vines planted on clay rich, decomposed granite soils with views that stretch to Table Mountain in Cape Town.  The winemaking is experimental, using different yeasts, fermentation techniques, and aging vessels. Grapes from different vineyard parcels are separately fermented and later blended.  The result is wine styles ranging from Sancerre-like (8 Rows) to oak aged (The Journal) and savory with extended skin contact (Wild Horseshoe).  They are all flavorful and well made, even the inexpensive, entry level Sauvignon Blanc.

Diemersdal Vineyard with Table Mountain in Background

 The wines were tasted at the winery in February 2023. At the end of each note, retail prices are given in South Africa Rand ($1=R17) as most of these wines are not yet available in the US market. US Importer: Metropolis Wine Merchants

The Wines

Diemersdal 2022 8 Rows Sauvignon Blanc Cape Town/Durbanville 92  The most Sancerre like of the Diemersdal Sauvignon Blancs with subdued nose of citrus and wet river stones. Firmly structured and dense on the palate, showing stony minerals with rich, herb inflected guava and Bosc pear. Finishes dry with lingering mineral notes.  Hand harvested at night from 29-year-old, dry farmed vines yielding 4t/ha; given 8 hours skin contact and fermented with Vin7 yeast followed by 5 months lees contact. 3.30 pH, 13.7% alc.  R170

Diemersdal 2022 Sauvignon Blanc Cape Town/Durbanville 89  Shows a nose of wild herbs and tropical fruit. Bright flavors of guava, citrus, pear and a hint of nettles. A very satisfying, easy drinking, inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc. Perfect for wine by the glass programs. Sourced from dry farmed estate vineyards, machine harvested at night at different stages of ripeness, 3-12 hours skin contact, inoculated with selected yeasts, post fermentation lees contact. pH 3.50, 13.2% alc. R80  Delicious and outstanding value.

Diemersdal 2022 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve Cape Town/Durbanville 92  Fruit rich and fruit forward, the Reserve reveals passion fruit and fynbos on the nose. Precise, juicy palate with rich flavors of citrus and passion fruit with rosemary and wild herbal accents. Very long, rich, focused finish. A beautifully balanced wine–well made! Sourced from the estate’s highest altitude parcel surrounded by renosterveld vegetation; crushed, destemmed and given 12 hours skin contact before fermentation in stainless steel with Vin7 yeast. Lees contact for 5 months with weekly stirring. 3.35 pH, 13.8% alc. R120

The Winemaking Team: Thys Louw, Mari Branders, Janeke Beck, and Juandre Brewer

Diemersdal 2021 The Journal Sauvignon Blanc Cape Town/Durbanville 93  Made in the fumé blanc style, The Journal opens with an intricate bouquet of flint, vanilla and underlying ripe guava. Full, round and creamy rich on the palate with notes of white fruit and sweet oak. Oak and acidity combine to give a firm backbone that lingers on a very long, rich finish. Hand harvested from the estate’s oldest (30+ years), low yielding (4 t/ha) Sauvignon Blanc vines, given 4 hours skin contact before fermentation in 1st and 2nd fill 600L Stockinger barrels and terra cotta pots followed by 11 months on the lees with weekly stirring. 3.37 pH, 13.7% alc. R230  A complete wine—very successful wooded style.

Diemersdal 2021 Wild Horseshoe Sauvignon Blanc Cape Town/Durbanville 93  An example of innovative, experimental winemaking and successful, too. Multi-faceted bouquet of orchard fruit, toasted grain and touch of dried herbs. Rich, savory and full in the mouth with a suave, lush texture. Layered but understated fruit. Rich finish. Hand harvested from old vines and given 96 hours skin contact before fermentation with ambient yeast in neutral 500L French oak followed by 11 months on the lees with stirring. 3.41 pH, 13.3% alc. R265 Very well done. Reminiscent of the skin contact Sauvignons of Italy’s Collio region.

Diemersdal 2022 Winter Ferment Sauvignon Blanc Cape Town/Durbanville 91 Aromas of flowers, spice and grapefruit pith. Vibrant flavors of melon, guava, citrus and thyme. Notably different mouth feel–broad and suave with a semi-creamy note. Night harvested, crushed and destemmed with 3 hours skin contact, then the juice was frozen and 5 months later thawed and fermented with CKS yeast and aged 4 months on the lees. Bottled unfiltered. 3.47 pH, 14.6% alc. R155  Uniquely made (since 2017) and delicious.

Source : https://i-winereview.com/blog/index.php/2023/02/25/diemersdal-a-south-african-sauvignon-blanc-specialist/

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