Sauvignon Blanc specialist Diemersdal Wine Estate in Durbanville has added a newcomer to its range of wines, this one originating from the famed Marlborough wine region on New Zealand’s South Island.

The Diemersdal Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2019 was made in Marlborough, which is situated some 11 000km from Diemersdal’s winery, and is being offered as a wine representing owner-winemaker Thys Louw’s vision of harnessing a diverse range of exceptional Sauvignon Blanc styles under the Diemersdal label.

Project Diemersdal Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

“Despite producing 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 in 2016 and got the chance to experience Marlborough’s 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 expressive Sauvignon Blanc under a Diemersdal label.”

At the beginning of 2019 Thys found himself back in Marlborough as the South African representative at the annual Marlborough Celebration of Sauvignon Blanc, an international conference focusing on the cultivar. Outside of the formal duties, Thys teamed up with well-known local winemaker Ben Glover, from Glover Family Vineyards, to initiate Project Diemersdal Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

Production of the wine

“Marlborough has over 20 000 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc planted to a diverse terroir, 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 some of 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, leading to the tropical notes of gooseberry and passionfruit so typical of the region’s wines.

While Thys was back at Diemersdal attending to his own harvest, Ben picked the grapes for Diemersdal Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc at the end of March. The must and juice was handled anaerobically to protect against any potential oxidation and to maintain juice freshness.

The juice was co-fermented with a combination of yeasts to enhance some of the characteristic thiol notes while maintaining the vibrant ripe herbaceous notes of the vineyard. Average time for fermentation was two weeks at between 12°C to 13°C.

The wine was left on gross yeast lees for another three to four weeks before racking into a tank with some of the lighter lees. Tanks were stirred weekly for texture and mouth-feel. The wine was lightly fined to polish and stabilise before bottling, which was done in August.

The final product

Tienie Louw, Thys’s father, visited Marlborough in the winter to check on the wine’s progress and to taste various samples.

Thys says the final results are exactly what he was looking for. “The Dillons Point area of Marlborough is renowned for producing stunning wines of power, finesse and vibrancy,” he says. “And you’ll find those characteristic tropical notes of granadilla, gooseberry and kiwi, all harnessed by a firm, bracing freshness, in our Diemersdal Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

“This is one of the aspects about Marlborough that truly stands out. No matter where you are, no matter the name of the producer on the bottle, if you taste a wine made in that part of the world, you know you are tasting Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

“For Diemersdal it is a great honour to be able to present this to South African wine drinkers who have already made Sauvignon Blanc the country’s most popular varietal wine.” – Press release, Diemersdal Wine Estate