Diemersdal Flies High at Veritas 2017
Diemersdal Estate in Durbanville was one of the top-achievers at this year’s Veritas Wine Awards, walking away with three Double Gold and four Gold medals. Added lustre came in the form of one of the Double Golds going to the Diemersdal Winter Ferment Sauvignon Blanc 2017, a revolutionary style of wine fermented from Sauvignon Blanc juice that had been frozen after harvest for five months before fermentation.
The other Double Gold went to Diemersdal’s Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2017, making Diemersdal the only producer to win two Doubles for Sauvignon Blanc at this year’s Veritas. And to show that this esteemed Sauvignon Blanc estate is no one-trick pony, a Double Gold was also awarded to Diemersdal Malbec 2015. This was the only Malbec entered into Veritas 2017 to receive a Double Gold.
Gold Medals went to the Eight Rows Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Merlot 2015, Pinotage 2016 and Pinotage Reserve 2016.
Mari Branders, a winemaker at Diemersdal since 2006, says the Veritas awards this year are of great significance to the estate as they award innovation and versatility.
“Receiving a Double Gold for our Winter Ferment Sauvignon Blanc in the first year we made this wine is extremely gratifying as it is wonderful to have one’s innovation rewarded,” she says. “The most rewarding part of my career has been – and still is – the spirit of innovation at Diemersdal, which was once again shown when we hatched the idea of a wine fermented from frozen juice,” she says. “There is no resting on your laurels here. We always try to be innovative with new wine styles, not as gimmicks but as wines that stretch the boundaries and reward the consumer.”
According to Juandré Bruwer, assistant-winemaker who is a red wine specialist, the Veritas awards for the team’s red wines underscores his belief that Durbanville is prized red wine terroir.
“The Diemersdal Pinotages once again showed to be formidable in a very competitive Veritas line-up, winning two Golds,” he says. “And the Double Gold for Malbec vindicates our belief that we are sitting on a very special variety that really produces something exceptional on Diemersdal. This is a red wine to watch, especially now that consumers are beginning to discover its rewarding juiciness and soft tannins.”
Diemersdal proprietor and cellar-master Thys Louw says the Double Gold recognition for the Winter Ferment wines could herald a new era for Sauvignon Blanc in South Africa.
“The process we used in making this wine brings a broad tropical profile the local industry has not seen before,” he says. “The primary feature is the high occurrence of thiol compounds. These thiols are what gives Sauvignon Blanc the passion fruit and goose-berry flavours for which especially the wines from New Zealand have become famous for.”
Louw says that while a high thiol count for a tropical style of South African Sauvignon Blanc amounts to 2 500 nanograms per litre, the Winter Ferment Sauvignon Blanc measures in the region of 5 000 nanograms per litre.
“This high thiol level is unheard of in South Africa and is more in line with what one would find in wines from Marlborough in New Zealand,” he says. “And as all Sauvignon Blanc producers know, those New Zealand wines count among the most popular wines the world over, generating huge sales for that country and commanding premium prices. If we can move into that direction with more expressive Sauvignon Blancs, South Africa can show the Kiwis that we are not only capable of competing on the rugby field.”
Main picture: Thys Louw, Mari Branders, Christo Pienaar (chairman of the Veritas Wine Awards) and Juandré Bruwer.