Diemersdal Estate Bottles first Sauvignon Blanc from Harvest 2020
“The 2020 vintage will go down as one of those years in which we winemakers saw it all,” says Thys. “A magnificent growing season due to the cool, mild conditions during the spring and early summer of 2019. During Christmas Durbanville looked like a winter Cape Cold Front had hit us with cold temperatures, grey skies and rain. And once harvest got under way early in January temperatures climbed, with some unexpected patches of rain. But from mid-January we experienced a true Cape summer: sun, warm weather and a bit of south-easterly wind.”
Despite the vagaries in temperatures and general conditions, Diemersdal’s crop showed even-ripening.“I think it has a lot to do with our vines being unirrigated, dryland plants that are better suited to handle the dry conditions the winelands had over the past five years as well as the inclement weather experienced during the latter parts of the growing season.”
Louw sent out his Sauvignon Blanc harvesters in the second week of January, and the first grapes showed brisk acidity and assertive varietal character, with the balanced chemistry allowing for wine that is now almost ready for bottling. The first wines exude zest and freshness along with delectable tropical notes of gooseberry and passion-fruit.
“As a Sauvignon Blanc producer harvest-time puts you in a vice where you are pushed from both sides,” says Louw. “On the one hand the grapes need picking, crushing and vinifying. On the other hand, our customers are crying out for 2020 Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa’s most popular white wine varietal. This is an extremely satisfying situation for a wine maker to be in, as at the end of the day it is the demand for your product that drives you to do what you do.”
Louw believes the reason for the health of grapes and in yield can be attributed to the Diemersdal’s 200ha of vineyard being unirrigated. “We have been farming dryland vineyards for generations, and together with the relatively cool climate Durbanville experiences this is what characterises Diemersdal’s quality of fruit and the resulting wines,” he says.
“The roots of unirrigated vines run deep, able to access deep-lying moisture and coolness when the shallow soils are parched and hot. And due to the vines knowing they are not going to be spoilt by irrigation programmes they build-up a resilience to dry conditions, hence the relatively minimal effects of an otherwise devastating drought the Cape Winelands experienced over the past few years.”
While the bottling line was running on the Sauvignon Blanc, the Diemersdal cellar is filled with the heady aromas of fermenting Pinotage, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Malbec. “The red wines are showing deep colour concentration and intense flavours at this stage, and reflect a vintage we are looking forward to presenting to the wine world.”