Being planted exclusively under dryland vines, Diemersdal Estate in Durbanville saw no discernible difference in average grape yields during harvest 2018, despite the four years of relentless drought that has this year had a major impact on the South African wine industry.

“This year once again reaffirmed my belief in unirrigated dryland vineyards as what farms best in the Durbanville area,” says Thys Louw, cellar master and proprietor of Diemersdal and the sixth generation wine farming Louw on the property. “Despite the farm having had less than half of our average rainfall during the season, the vines seemed unperturbed, growing healthy fruit at the kind of yields we have come to expect.”

The proof of the quality of the harvest is already to be seen in Diemersdal’s Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay (unwooded) from the 2018 vintage that are bottled and already in the market.

“These two easy-drinking wines are focused in terms of varietal expression, and stylistically on par with what we are aiming at,” says Louw. “The Sauvignon Blanc is showing a breezy tropical character with a zippy freshness that our consumers have come to expect. It is this that makes our standard Sauvignon Blanc one of our top-sellers, and this year we literally had the market clamouring for the wine while it was still fermenting in tank.”

Of the Chardonnay 2018 Louw says this wine is increasing in popularity and has become a firm Diemersdal favourite among consumers. “Yes, we are primarily a Sauvignon Blanc farm, but Chardonnay is such as wonderful expressive white wine that I enjoy having it in our portfolio. The variety is also gaining momentum in the market-place, especially the unwooded style we make which offers Chardonnay character and depth without the woody brickbat character.”

With the other range of 2018 Sauvignon Blancs to be released later in the year, Louw admits to being impatient at having to wait until next year before showing the red fruits of this year’s vintage.

“This year’s red wines are in barrel and every time I go to investigate I am more in awe at the 2018 red wine vintage,” he says. “It must have been the protracted drought that led to the vines taking up the challenge by showing how they can perform in the trying conditions. The concentration of flavours in our Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec is truly spectacular and the wine enjoying pubic can look forward to great things from this vintage. But like me, they will have to wait a little longer.”