Diemersdal, the sixth-generation family wine estate in Durbanville, South Africa, won one of four Gold medals handed to Cape wineries at this year’s Concours Mondial du Sauvignon Blanc held in Portugal. The Journal Sauvignon Blanc 2021, a barrel-aged rendition of this variety for which Diemersdal has become world-renowned, was awarded Gold as well as being awarded the Revelation Trophy for Best South African Wine on show.
Concours Mondial du Sauvignon Blanc is the most important international competition for Sauvignon Blanc wine and this year attracted 1 120 entries from 23 countries.
Since its first release from the 2019 vintage, The Journal Sauvignon Blanc has garnered acclaim on various fronts, one of the most recent being a 95pt rating in Decanter magazine’s review of South African Sauvignon Blancs. An ode to Diemersdal owner-winemaker Thys Louw’s respect for and love of Sancerre, the variety’s ancestral French home, The Journal Sauvignon is made from a single vineyard planted with vines between 29 and 39 years old. The wine was fermented in barrel, after which it spent 11 months in new and second fill oak, the barrels specially made in France and Austria for Sauvignon Blanc aging.
As Diemersdal owner-winemaker Thys Louw would have it, this wine is a nod to the grape variety’s classic pedigree. “It gives me a great kick knowing we are working with a variety the wine consumer loves and which is one of the most successful commercial varieties in the world,” he says. “The audience is there – now it is up to us winemakers to perform by – along with commercial success – showing there is greatness in Sauvignon Blanc.”
The Journal Sauvignon Blanc was conceptualised in 2019 during a whirl-wind visit to Marlborough in New Zealand where Thys was selected to represent South Africa at the International Celebration of Sauvignon Blanc.
“Spending a week with Sauvignon Blanc makers from France, Austria, New Zealand and America inspired me to attempt a next-level Diemersdal wine,” he says. “With The Journal I wanted to create a wine from the farm’s finest Sauvignon Blanc site representing the best Durbanville is capable of. For the classic touch, the wine was to be oaked. And not just as an afterthought. We used a substantial component of new French oak barrels, including some premium Stockinger vessels from Austria, which are absolutely incredible in bringing out complexity and showing depth in white wine.”
A great terroir-driven wine. New wood. And added to the recipe, another nod to Sancerre. “During the nine months in barrel, the wine was kept at a cold 9°C, as I have seen the vignerons do in France with Sauvignon Blanc. This cold maturation adds another dimension, slowly coaxing the flavours and keeping the taste profile restrained and classic. While the wood helps in giving the wine a complex mouthfeel, the fresh brightness of Sauvignon Blanc is still present, but it lingers and impresses with deft palate-weight.”
Juandré Bruwer, Thys’s fellow winemaker in the Diemersdal cellar, says The Journal Sauvignon Blanc 2021 reflects a vintage during which the Cape experienced ideal conditions, the cool growing season followed by a relatively mild summer during which Diemersdal’s crop showed even-ripening. “This has a lot to do with the estate’s vines being unirrigated, dryland plants being better suited to handle the dry conditions to which the Cape has been subjected over the past few years,” he says.
The 2021 vintage of The Journal is characterised by opulence of Sauvignon Blanc varietal expression, with refinement and elegance. “The quality of that vintage played right into my hands in making The Journal Sauvignon Blanc,” says Juandré. “Barrel-fermentation and 11 months in new and second-fill barrels kept the fruit and elegance in the wine as well as adding layer-upon-layer of complexity. As a young winemaker, The Journal is the kind of wine that is an honour to work with.”
The Diemersdal 2021 The Journal Sauvignon Blanc will be available soon – watch this space.