Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Diemersdal for the first time and tasting their new winter ferment Sauvignon blanc. Thys Louw, the 6thgeneration winemaker and owner of the Estate makes some of the best Sauvignon in South Africa. He now has 10 different bottles of the stuff. In an attempt to bring out as much tropical fruit flavours as possible, he freezes the grape juice soon after harvest in Feb and then thaws it to ferment in June. The wine reminds me so much of New Zealand Sauv Blancs from the Marlborough region that I love.
Although, according to Louw, the results of this freezing and late “winter” ferment have been anything but normal.
“For reasons unknown, the wine is showing flavours and chemical analyses I have never encountered in any of the Sauvignon Blancs made at Diemersdal,” says Louw. “The primary feature is the high occurrence of thiol compounds. These thiols are what gives Sauvignon Blanc the passion fruit and gooseberry flavours for which especially the wines from New Zealand have become famous for.”
Louw says that while a high thiol count for a tropical style of South African Sauvignon Blanc amounts to 2 500 nanogram per litre, the Winter Ferment Sauvignon Blanc measures in the region of 5 000 nanogram per litre.
“This high thiol level is unheard of in South Africa and is more in line with what one would find in wines from Marlborough in New Zealand,” he says. “When I set out with the idea of freezing must, I wanted to see what the effect would be on the freshness and the complexity of the wine, including a possible increase in thiols. But no way did I expect the frozen juice to deliver a wine with double the thiol level we at Diemersdal had become accustomed to and with such extraordinary tropical flavours.”
Louw describes the wine as the most “new world style of Sauvignon Blanc” he has made. “The wine has intense aromas of gooseberries, tropical fruit and sweet-grapefruit with a core of minerality. Besides the intense fruit-expression, the excellent natural acidity creates balance in the concentrated, rich mouth-filling texture.”
We enjoyed the vertical tasting in the farms quaint and rustic Farm Eatery and it was followed by an inspired and delicious lunch prepared by their chef Martin De Kock who sources local and seasonal produce. The menu was eclectic with global touches from Mexico, France and Asia. They serve a lovely tapas menu, which changes frequently, and the main menu, which will evolve twice a month. I loved the starter tapas of tako yakim spring onion, katsuyobushi, pickled ginger and teriyaki and the prawn taco with smoked avo, lime, chilli and charred corn. The Chalmar beef sirloin with waterblommetjie bourguignon, king mushroom and foraged herbs was really delicious too. I can’t wait to visit again to experience more of this food.
This is a little more of what it looked like:
If you are wondering what other food pairs with Sauvignon check out this food & wine pairing article I complied with loads of recipe ideas:
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