The second vintage of Diemersdal’s Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc made on New Zealand’s South Island has landed in South Africa to give local wine-lovers a taste of the exuberant flavour spectrum offered by Sauvignon Blancs made in the Land of the Long White Cloud and for which the Kiwis have become world famous.
Diemersdal released its maiden Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc at the end of 2019, a wine made in Marlborough situated some 11 000kms from Diemersdal’s winery in Durbanville. It was here in Marlborough where Diemersdal owner-winemaker Thys Louw became infatuated with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc during a visit in 2016, so much so that he decided to introduce a wine made in that wine region under his Diemersdal label.
“Despite having made Sauvignon Blanc for 20 years and being familiar with New Zealand’s exuberant, tropical style of wines, my eyes truly opened when I first visited New Zealand and got the chance to experience Marlborough’s general commitment to Sauvignon Blanc,” says Thys.
“The vineyard practices, the approach to Sauvignon Blanc in the wineries and the local wine community’s united focus on the variety, it all got under my skin. I began toying with the idea of offering South African consumers a taste of Marlborough’s pungent, expressive Sauvignon Blanc under our Diemersdal label.”
Thys teamed-up with well-known Marlborough winemaker Ben Glover from Glover Family Vineyards to initiate Project Diemersdal Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
“Marlborough has over 20 000ha of Sauvignon Blanc planted to a diversity of terroirs, but I knew where I wanted the grapes for my wine to come from,” says Thys. “This was from the Dillons Point sub-region, an area that produces some of the finest Sauvignon Blancs in New Zealand and from where Glover Family Vineyards accesses its fruit.”
Mild summers, cold winters and substantial variation in day and night temperatures make Marlborough an ideal region to ripen Sauvignon Blanc grapes with high levels of thiols, compounds leading to the tropical notes of gooseberry and passion-fruit so typical of the region’s wines. Soils are stony sandy loam over very deep, stony gravels.
Glover says he and his team in New Zealand really enjoyed making this second vintage of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc for Diemersdal. “Diemersdal and South Africa are now part of our business, and we call our partnership with Thys the ‘Danie Gerber Project’ after the great South African centre who gave the All Blacks such a hard time on the rugger field,” says Ben.
“Being the second vintage of this project, the Diemersdal Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020 was just as rewarding as the inaugural 2019. We use grapes from the Awa Vineyard in Dillons Point, and in 2020 this vineyard really shone in providing the foundation for a magic wine. Tasting the fruit before harvest on 4 April 2020 we knew this was going to be a goodie with the grapes showing pertness and crunch.”
The wine was machine harvested and pressed-off cold where it was cold settled for 48hrs and then racked to stainless tank for fermentation. A variety of yeasts were used to accentuate the Dillons Point subregion and its proximity to the coast, which is three kilometres away.
“The maritime climate and the fertile silt loam soils provide a combination of an Umami-like sensation surrounded with ripe greens, hints of fennel and tomato leaf layered with white guava and a touch of Cape gooseberry,” says Ben. “In the Diemersdal Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020 I was struck by the delicate, urgent pungency: the wine has power and intensity, but you do not feel like you have been in the ring with Mike Tyson. Instead, the wine is much like rugby’s Danie Gerber, combining power, grace and excitement in one package.”
Ben says the co-operation with Diemersdal was a highlight for him and his team in New Zealand during the pandemic-stricken year of 2020. “Projects like these are so important at bringing us together and allow us wine-folk to be more aware of what is going on in each-others’ backyards and enjoying the interaction and sharing of knowledge and stories,” he says.
The Diemersdal Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020 is available at a recommended retail price of R215 a bottle.