2017 Looks Like a Grape Year

To check out the quality of Cape Harvest 2017, I was assisted by the friendly folk from Diemersdal, out Durbanville way. For here two new vintages, bottle, closed and already being sold are waiting for those like-minded vinous souls who want a sneak preview as to what this vintage holds.

It is a well-known fact that this vintage is drier than a Nun’s mouth during a George Clooney visit to the Vatican. The rains and cold-fronts avoided the Western Cape last year, so dams and deep-lying soils have been parched for about two years now. According to Thys Louw from Diemersdal – where all vineyards are dry-land – some 25mm of rain around Christmas was a real blessing. Vines cooled down and the earth sucked the water into the lower layers, allowing the roots to get working on general plant health and growth-lust.

Results were better yields than last year and on the quality side, well, that’s what the just-released Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc and Unwooded Chardonnay from the 2017 vintage are here for.

The Sauvignon Blanc is fresher than a Maori rugby-player after his weekly shower. The nose is intensely cool, forest-like with scents of budding white lily, waterfall-mist and fresh moss. A good whack of pyrazine is on there, too, making me smell grated green lime, shredded Kikuyu grass and ripped meadow saffron.

Entering the palate with pirouette-like precision, I am tasting kumquat, crushed granadilla and a shard of fennel. The wine drifts on the palate, swirling under its own steam and ends crisply, the taste of life, zest and fine white wine finding lasting purchase on its finish. This wine is to be consumed with gusto, please, and provides a preview of the other Diemersdal 2017 Sauvignon Blancs to come. Me, I can’t wait for the Eight Rows.

The Diemersdal Unwooded Chardonnay 2017 displays the same randy youthful exuberance as the Sauvignon Blanc, the exhilaration on the mouth somewhat tempered by a slightly denser structure. The nose is still and brooding, but once sipped a medley of clean Chardonnay flavours waltz to the Burgundian beat. I am talking unsalted butter. Give me a crushed hazelnut. A handful of white flowers. And some just-ripe Valencia citrus.

Sure, the serious wines are to come, and by what I am tasting and what Thys is telling, it is looking like a great year. So if you find the 2017’s in the market, get down on it.

·       Emile Joubert

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