Diemersdal Estate’s commitment to Sauvignon Blanc once again paid-off by its winning the Sauvignon Blanc Trophy at this year’s South African National Young Wine Show. This follows on what Diemersdal owner-winemaker Thys Louw has termed an “absolutely brilliant year” for Sauvignon Blanc, with some of the best quality wines he has ever seen emerging from of his sixth generation owned family estate.
“The 2020 vintage will go down as one of those years in which the winemakers saw it all,” says Louw. “We had a magnificent growing season due to the cool, mild conditions during the spring and early summer of 2019. This led to even bud-break, flowering and bunch formation. The weather, however, took another turn during Christmas when Durbanville looked as if it had been hit by one of those famous winter Cape Cold Fronts, with cold temperatures, grey skies and rain. Fortunately canopy-management and other preventative measures kept vineyards disease-free, the rain cooling the soil and freshening the plants.”
Once harvest got under way early in January, temperatures climbed, with some unexpected intermittent patches of rain. But from mid-January Diemersdal experienced a true Cape summer: sun, warm weather and a bit of south-easterly wind – ideal.
According to Louw, the South African Young Wine Show is of profound importance as this is where the entire industry comes together to assess the quality of the 2020 wine harvest, allowing producers to compare themselves with their peers.
“This is one of the most competitive wine shows in South Africa,” says Louw. “Winning a trophy means you have shone out above hundreds of other wines, all judged by a panel of experts. Obviously the main achievement is winning the General Smuts Trophy presented at the show to the best producer, something we achieved in 2013, also with Sauvignon Blanc.”
Winning the Sauvignon Blanc Trophy is of particular importance due to the fact that this represents the most popular consumer wine in South African today, and therefore the most competitive white wine category.
“The reason the consumer likes the variety, is because it is easy to understand,” says Thys. “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.
“As in all wines, there are differences in flavour and structure due to the origin of the grapes and the respective terroir of the vineyards, wine making style, and so forth. In South Africa we see Sauvignon Blancs from Elgin having their own characteristics, as is the case with wines from Durbanville, Darling, Robertson. They all have their own fingerprints – some are more tropical, others greener. But at the end of the day, there is a Sauvignon Blanc sweet-spot the consumer can relate to, and that makes for the success of the variety. People like difference, yes, but familiarity reassures them. This is why Sauvignon Blanc outsells any other South African white grape variety by three to one, and why it achieve the highest average price for white wine grapes.
“Winning the Sauvignon Blanc Trophy at the SA National Young wine show is a tremendous honour in light of the many excellent wines made from this grape in South Africa.”