Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc: Genius and Youth

Lafras Huguenet

In his marvellous book Drinking With The Valkyries the genius wine writer Andrew Jefford promotes the joy of young wines: “Who doesn’t enjoy being invaded by a young wine, and having your head turned, your horizons altered, your composure rattled? Acidity in wine is never better than in youth, when it, too, remains spliced to generous fruit contours, indeed when it seems to bubble and froth with fruit itself, like a gurgling baby with milk.”

However much I agree with these words and do enjoy Chablis, Alvarinho, Picpoul and Sancerre wines under a year old, I found my Editor’s encouragement of trying a Sauvignon Blanc wine a mere six weeks after the grapes were harvested a bit of a ballsy request. Surely a gimmick, I thought, this Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc bottled, on-market from grapes harvested in January.

But having researched into the pedigree of Diemersdal where Thys Louw established himself as one of the pioneers in the explosion in popularity and quality of Cape Sauvignon Blanc some two decades back, I relented. The bottle of Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc 2024 did not end-up in salad-dressing or as a tenderiser to the batch of glistening squid recently procured in the Eastern Cape. It was chilled until the bottle beaded moisture, iced my rheumatic palms as a unlocked the screwcap. And with Jefford’s words echoing through my tufts of ear-hair, the wine was poured for pondering.

An underage, raw wine will mostly be aggressively sulphery and edgily pungent on the nose. But here this was not thus. Instead, the wine showed assured aromatics, a waft of jasmine-leaf, freshly mowed buffalo grass and just the ever-so slight sunny cirrus layer of guava sap. Very interesting and inviting at the end of a long day behind the steering wheel from Jeffrey’s Bay to Hermanus.

The promise from the nose was delivered onto the palate. A tentative perusal revealed delight that led to thirst and a desire to drink fast and drink deep and drink good.

Thys Louw from Diemersdal.

There must be some intuitively scientific techniques going on in the Diemersdal cellar for such a young wine to achieve this state of excellence. Which leads to wonder and amaze, but anticipation is not conducive to lofty pondering.

The exquisitely bracing revelation the wine’s nose held was furthered by its titillating, tasty and enjoyable presence in the mouth. There is the harmonious balance between the thiols of tropicality and a crisp crest of vibrant flavour so characteristic of fine, pure Sauvignon Blanc.

Expecting acidity, robust in its virile youth, there was, rather, a comforting glycerol mouthfeel making the temptation to glug the wine in huge dollops so much greater. This agreeable texture made the flavours confident and assertive, with everything being in balance. I found on my taste-buds a generous scoop of cantaloupe whetted with rivulets of passion-fruit juice. Gooseberry, tart and teasing, also presented itself, as did a hit of honey-suckle and yellow zest from those thick-peel Cape lemons.

I was reminded, fleetingly of a waterfall thundering into a pool surrounded by a forest filled with trees bearing tropical fruits and citrus, the splash and the roar elevated with each mouthful of a truly lovely, delicious wine. Reminding me that, as I always tell my neighbour’s daughter, there being great pleasure in youth. Indeed.

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Tide Turns for Cape Sauvignon Blanc

American base-ball legend Yogi Berra was also known for his way with words, such as when being asked whether he still goes to Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York, the Berra quipped: “Man, nobody goes to that place anymore, it’s too crowded.”

This line always reminds me of the opinions on Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa’s – and one of the world’s – most popular wines. As a variety, serious wine circles are lean in allowing mention of or encouraging discussion on Sauvignon Blanc due to its image of being commercially successful, extensive in its presence on the wine shelves, and widely likeable. Enjoyable, it is, to the millions of people who reach for the wine’s fresh, vital approachability.

Those who frown on this variety and its wines, well, I can read your mind: Like the novels of John Grisham, the films of Jerry Bruckheimer and the tunes of Taylor Swift, your cultured opinion states that if it is omnipresent and appeals to the populace, then this must be devoid of profound merit and lacking in profundity.

Tim Atkin MW, South Africa’s most loveable international wine voice, summed it up acutely. When asked to attend an international Sauvignon Blanc gig in Marlborough, New Zealand a while back he stated that he was unavailable for the event as rearranging his sock-drawer was more important.

But the waves in the world of wine are always alternating directions, the currents ever-shifting. Thus, Sauvignon Blanc appears to be moving in a direction towards its commanding more attention as a fine wine variety rather than a one-dimensional agreeable quaffer. While it might handsomely add to the bank balance of its producers, the cultivar is also becoming worthy of filling the editorial space so keenly devoted to “sexier” and “off-centre” white cultivars.

RJ Botha, cellarmaster at Kleine Zalze Wines in Stellenbosch and chairperson of Sauvignon BlancSA, is realising this. During this year’s FNB Sauvignon BlancSA Top 10 he said it’s opportune to talk less of the commercial success and overall popularity of South African Sauvignon Blanc. “Now is the time to get the message out that our Sauvignon Blancs are diverse in their expressions of the Cape’s multi-dimensional terroir, but also to grow the emphasis on the attention and adventurous approach Cape winemakers are using to ensure their Sauvignon Blancs are world-class in complexity and structure,” he said. “While it will always be one of the world’s most popularly enjoyable wines, Sauvignon Blanc does not have to stand-back when it comes to offering excellence and status as a world-great variety.”

RJ Botha

RJ’s words were scarcely cold when Andrew Mellish from Mellish Wines in Durbanville presented a tasting of South African and European Sauvignon Blancs with the view of underscoring precisely this: The cultivar is no one-trick pony and presents a multi-layered white wine spectrum. Andrew’s line-up offered 12 Cape Sauvignon Blancs, three French (one of which a Sémillon blend) and an Austrian wine. The line-up: Iona Elgin Highlands Wild Ferment 2021, Tement Ried Zieregg Karmileten Berg 2019 (Austria), Bartho Eksteen Houtskool 2019, Mellish Family Vineyards Blanc Fumé 2021, De Grendel Koetshuis 2019, David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner Wild Ferment 2019, Vergelegen Reserve 2019, Alphonse Mellot Edmond 2016 (Sancerre), Thorne & Daughters Snakes & Ladders 2019, Dagueneau Buisson Rehard Blanc Fumé de Pouilly 2015 (Pouilly Fumé), Bloemendal Suider Terras 2015, Klein Constantia Clara 2021, Trizanne Signature Wines Sondagskloof White 2018, Reyneke Reserve 2017, Diemersdal The Journal 2019 and Le Petit Cheval Bordeaux Blanc 2018 (Bordeaux).

Served in four flights, each including an international wine, the major impression was the deliciousness of the Sauvignon Blanc cultivar. A purity and vibrancy, a polished cleanliness – without sterility – characterised the wines, with various levels of thought-provoking depth found throughout the line-up. The multi-pronged onslaught on the senses was complemented by the fact that the youngest offering was two years old, going right down to 2015. All the Sauvignon Blancs, thus, had been exposed to silence and stillness for at least 24 months, a period of rest and breath, pausing after the fervours of their lusty youth and ready to awaken in the mouth with refreshed and mannered confidence.

The experiences ranged from the stony maritime bursts resonating in Trizanne Signature Wines Sondagskloof White 2018 and Iona Elgin Highlands Wild Ferment 2021, to the mature palate-weight of Bloemendal Suider Terras 2015 with its glow of bruised apple and jasmine, still a stunner at eight years of age.

Mellish Family Vineyards Blanc Fumé 2021 and Diemersdal The Journal 2019 are both generously wooded, but the oak both discreet in allowing white fruit to show, while being directive in piling the solid layers of edification required to give the wines weight and presence and respect.

Reyneke Reserve 2017 and Klein Constantia Clara 2021 are world’s apart as far as terroir is concerned, namely Stellenbosch the former and the latter hailing from Constantia. Yet both are knee-tremblingly graceful in their restrained harnessing of the sometimes pugnacious Sauvignon Blanc thiols and pyrazines, here presenting wines of extraordinary life-affirming appeal with firm, vital cores yet donning a subdued and courteous cool cloak of white wine elegance.

The foreign wines were gorgeous but by no means overshadowed Brand Sauvignon Blanc South Africa. Tement Ried Zieregg Karmileten Berg 2019 from Austria is like something carved from a cold slab of Carrera marble, unbreakable and permanent with flowing curves and jagged, defined cuts of beauty. Dagueneau Buisson Rehard Blanc Fumé de Pouilly 2015 might not be as vigorously captivating or hold the impending danger as the same producer’s Silex cult wine, but it is rapturous with sappy green fruit running over upturned clods of fossilised earth.

One of the leading narratives among those assembled at the tasting was: So, how does South Africa stack-up to the international wines on offer? With respect, I am getting past this kind of question with its undertow of inferiority. It is not how do we measure against the world, but to what degree does the world welcome South Africa as a brother and sister of the Family of Wine Excellence? And with Sauvignon Blanc, it should be welcoming with open arms. Deservedly.

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Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc at the Heart of the Country

Lafras Huguenet

There are too many ways of recognising a wine snob to mention in one brief column, but I think I have pretty much seen them all. Lord knows I might even be one. For what is a snob other than someone passing condescending opinions on the whims of others?

In any event, the wine world is known for attracting self-appointed arbiters of taste and manner who loftily opine on all things to do with the modest fermented grape. The correct glasses from which to sip the respective nectars and which foods must accompany them; the dissing of certain countries and regions as not being able to vinify a specific grape variety to a state of suitability; knocking wines for showing a generous alcohol-level or the winemaker having used too much new oak for the judger’s liking; asserting that certain wines from certain countries are only drinkable after 15 years in the bottle… and so on.

Having returned from a lengthy stay in Casa Huguenet’s abode at Abingdon Villas in Kensington, I can say that wine snobbery is a universal trait. One of my neighbours still – after 23 years of mostly agreeable friendship – refuses to accept that some Stellenbosch Bordeaux red blends deserve status as honouring the soul and spirit of the Medoc in terms of quality. At Lord’s for the test match between Australia and England, I got irritable, frayed stares for putting one ice cube into my glass of Chablis. Even my Spanish house-help Juanita crapped on me upon discovering I dared to serve some Jamón Iberico ham with a sweet Pedro Ximenez sherry.

However, the kind of wine snobbery I did not find in the UK, but one which is all around me here in the Cape, is the “oh, I don’t drink Sauvignon Blanc” line. Or the general impression South African wine critics have that Sauvignon Blanc is some kind of homogenous, one-trick pony.

Even the official bodies of the Cape wine industry are in on the fix, starkly refusing to promote Sauvignon Blanc as South Africa’s leading variety with the most commercial export potential, instead putting their weight behind promoting Chenin Blanc. Which a fine wine makes. But due to Chenin Blanc’s lack of universal identity and failure to have gained recognition in global wine markets, it has about as much chance of capturing the attention of the wine world as pineapple pizza has of taking on Naples.

Sauvignon Blanc is huge in the UK, which does happen to be a knowledgeable and mature wine market – far more so than South Africa. Of course, New Zealand is still a prime runner in the offering of Sauvignon Blanc, but Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are growing at over 20% a year in terms of sales. So too Sauvignon Blancs from Austria, Italy and Chile and if anyone would like to question the diversity in deliciousness this variety offers, one trip to a decent wine bar off the King’s Road will have one thinking differently.

Vines on Diemersdal Estate in Durbanville.

It was at a dinner-party two days before my return to the Cape that I was asked to show a few wine-slinger guests what South African Sauvignon Blanc tastes like. A challenge, as my homeland of diversity has established itself as a producer of Sauvignon Blancs showing a vast variation in styles varying from goose-berry bombs out-Marlboroughing Marlborough, to classy Sancerre-styled wines with a refined complexity enhanced by the moderate use of oak barrel.

The wine I chose, however, was the Eight Rows Sauvignon Blanc 2023 from Diemersdal, to me the most South African-tasting Sauvignon Blanc of all Cape Sauvignons.

Thys Louw, current winemaker and proprietor at Diemersdal, created the legacy of the Eight Rows. Upon arriving on the family’s Durbanville farm in 2005 to work under his father, Tienie, the young Louw was not going to be allowed to jump into the vineyards and cellar to do it his way. Wise Tienie demanded Thys first prove himself, and thus the lad was initially awarded eight rows of a Sauvignon Blanc vineyard to vinify to show what he can do. Okay, this rite of passage is not quite as dramatic as a young wannabe Viking being sent by his father to decapitate a British priest and bring back the head, but it still smacks of rustic family charm.

Thys Louw

Thus, the legend of the Eight Rows was born after Thys’s first winemaking foray proved to be, well, a success.

The Eight Rows 2023 was but eight months old when I pulled its stopper and filled my guests’ awaiting glasses, and I immediately knew that the wine was going to be received with respect and rapture. As what to me is a defining Cape Sauvignon Blanc.

Vineyards grow in cool Durbanville, with chilly south-easterly breezes a feature of the long summers and layers of Atlantic Ocean mist covering the region in spring and autumn. Unwooded, the grapes from these eight rows of Sauvignon Blanc are kept on the lees, in stainless steel, capturing the essence of terroir and of purity, and of distinction.

On the nose, Eight Rows’ South African roots are evident in the whack of dry fynbos meeting a rush of seaside rock-pool on an incoming tide. There is aroma, raw and vivid, with just a slight waft of the floral.

In the mouth, the Sauvignon Blanc is exciting and boisterous but not without a confident dignity. There are stern and focussed elements, reminding of the steely thrusts found in Dagueneau’s Pouilly-Fumés. But the wine has an openness, a truly South African grip of hearty hospitality in its generosity. Flavours are substantially portioned with chunks of loquat, slivers of grape-fruit peel and juicy cuts of green-melon. A breezy note of gooseberry floats around, while a stony grittiness gives the wine swagger and presence.

It tastes of country and the flag flies high, and it flies proud.

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Seven Take-outs from Prowein 2023

After 20 years of enjoying a peaceful week in March at home while all his PR clients jetted off to the Prowein show in Düsseldorf, Germany, it was time for Emile Joubert to join the fray. Here are his top impressions of the world’s largest wine trade fair.

  • The vastness of it all. This is truly something to behold. On paper the facts of 6 000 exhibitors from over 40 countries showing their liquid-wares to 50 000 people from all over the world does not begin to do justice to the real-life experience of three days at Prowein. The 13 halls, some inter-connected, others detached demanding a few hundred metres’ trek across a glum tarmac, are each at least twice the size of the Cape Town International Centre. Each hall is filled to the brim with stands of various sizes, colours and dimensions representing producers of wine and other beverages from all corners of the globe. From 09:00 to 18:00 the exhibition centres buzz as sections of the aforementioned 50 000 visitors move around the stands to conduct business, meet-and-greet and to pursue that shared inbred trait of satisfying curiosity. Pausing to take a breath while walking the 1 200m from Hall 14 – where the South African delegation camped-out – to my German mates in Hall 1 – I could not but philosophically reflect on how big the wine world actually seems. How small South Africa is. How challenging the prospect of, among all these vast vinous offerings, getting one’s wines into the global market-place. Wine gladiators, we salute you.
  • It’s all business. For the opening hours of the show, that is. While some cruisers who managed to score a Prowein ticket are happy to aimlessly waltz about tippling a drop of Uruguay Alvarinho or sculling a glass of golden Commanderia from Cyprus before attempting to swop phone numbers with one of the ice-queens on the Moldovia stand, most people attend Prowein for business. Importers, distributors and buyers from over 140 countries flit from one scheduled meeting to another reconnecting with familiar suppliers or filling an appointment with a new winery from a new country which has been identified as being, possibly, the next big thing. Down where the South African exhibitors were strutting their stuff it was impressive to see local wineries such as De Wetshof, Chamonix, Diemersdal, Kanonkop, Delheim and Kleine Zalze hosting back-to-back meetings with clients from all over the world. Making deals. Fielding queries on the general state of play back in South Africa. Providing updates on their respective farms and wineries and families, with which many of the international buyers appeared to be reassuringly familiar.
  • South African wine is on the map. Introducing myself and chatting down the diverse halls of collected nationalities, it was apparent that South Africa is seen as a major wine player and an inextricable part of the global wine space. From the more familiar wine countries of Germany, France and Italy to the exhibitors from Serbia, Ecuador and Macedonia, everybody knows of South Africa. Not all of them might be able to point-out the country on the map – or find the African continent, even – but an awareness of South African wine was evident among everyone I spoke to. Granted, most wine professionals – i.e. everyone attending Prowein – would have come across the name South Africa in their business reading and statistics lists, but the tone of familiarity shown about the country as a wine producer was pretty awesome to experience. Stellenbosch is recognised as a top region. South Africa’s hosting of the international Concours Mondial du Sauvignon Blanc was noted. Robertson has limestone and Chardonnay. And Kanonkop is one of the world’s best wineries. Familiarity, yes, and not the kind breeding any contempt as far as I could tell.

Maryna Calow from Wosa and Johann de Wet, CEO of De Wetshof Estate.

  • South Africa has a sellable varietal mix. Moseying around the South African hall and eavesdropping in on the conversations and hustling, it is clear that the selection of Cape wine is appealing in its uncomplicated yet interesting spread. Unlike countries offering wine varieties such as Tamjanika (Serbia), Mavrud (Romania) and Malagousia (Greece), the South Africa selection represents a smorgasbord of want and familiarity: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot do not have to be explained, not even to wine-buyers from Kazakhstan or Albania. As exotics, Chenin Blanc and Pinotage have built-up an identifiable international presence with just the correct degree of curiosity-inducing edginess to round-off a undaunting, yet exciting palette of wine offerings. To this must be added the fact that Cape wines are deemed generally well-made, structurally sound and delicious, with accurate displays of varietal character. This is something the buyers at Prowein want. As one representative from a Belgian supermarket chain told me, “I am here to buy wine for my paying customers, not for impressing wine critics”.
  • We are a Vibe. As a collective of producers and marketers representing their country’s brand, South Africans are a discernibly effervescent, vivacious and spirited lot. Traipsing the Prowein halls I was on a daily basis exposed to restrained yet polite Germans, surly Eastern European wine reps who eyed you as if you owed them something, vacuously smiling Spaniards and over made-up Californians more intent on showing their dental-work than the wines before them. The South African contingent, however, greeted known and unknown visitors with hearty guffaws, spirited smiles and that “I am genuinely glad to see you” look. A shared spirit prevailed, one of warmth and confidence and genuine pride in what the gaggle of Cape wine producers have to offer.
  • It’s tough out there. To quote the great Steely Dan song – “The world that we used to know, people tell me it don’t turn not more.” Speaking to wine marketers, from those representing small producers in Alicante to French behemoths it is clear that the current global wine market is a tough one. Energy crisis in Europe. Rampant inflation. Cost-of-living. Long-term effects of Ukraine-Russia….belts are tightened and the European supermarket space is about as friendly to a wine producer as a Macedonian bouncer is to a late-night post Prowein reveller in downtown Düsseldorf’s Altstadt. Average wine prices per bottle in Europe remain shy of 2.5 euro per bottle amidst an environment where beer, ciders and non-alcohols are aggressively invading shelf-space. South African exports of packaged wine for February 2023 are 40% down on the same month’s reportage for last year, an indication of the current international environment. Suffice to say that this global market uncertainty, which is set to hang around for a while yet, is not conducive for a major overhauling of the Cape wine industry in terms of investing in the large-scale replanting of vineyards from Chenin Blanc and Colombard to more profitable varieties such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Trendspotting among this gargantuan display of drinks offerings was about as challenging as trying to find a vegan curry-wurst, but with keen foresight and an accurate fashion sense a few focus points of attention were identified. Fizz is going great guns, for one. Champagne houses are not meeting the incredible demand for the real stuff. Prosecco is going ballistic, Spanish Cava is on the rise and even German producers of carbonated sparkling wine can’t find enough order-books to fill. Rosé is huge, with the French putting themselves forward as the only makers of pink wine worth indulging in. And brace yourselves, inky black sweet wines made from Primitivo are continuing to take European markets by storm. Wine nations stepping to the fore appear to be Portugal and Greece, both taking-up huge Prowein space with EU subsidised stalls. Although as far as the New World goes, it must be said that South Africa has an edge in terms of grabbing the imagination. Opportunity beckons, awaiting to be unleashed.

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Cape Rosé: Showing a Blushed for Life

The drier version of that delicious blush wine known as rosé has been one of the success stories in the Cape wine industry, with more quality rosé’s than ever being on offer, and consumer uptake making sales thereof increasing year-by-year. I for one am not surprised, as South Africa’s climate and our get-up-and-go outdoors’ lifestyle make rosé a perfect wine for quenching the national thirst and cultivating home-grown wine appreciation for this beloved product of our winelands.

Provence, the southern part of France where sea, olive groves, lavender and seafood define its being, is the world’s central point for rosé. Over there the stuff is made by the hundreds of millions of litres, and from May to September a glass of rosé is found on every table, picnic spot and al fresco restaurant.

This is also the region where the making of rosé has been perfected. Red Mediterranean grape varieties such as Grenache, Cinsaut and Shiraz are picked and the juice immediately bled from the coloured skins, allowing just a slight blush colour liquid to make its way to the fermentation tank. Ferment, keep it on lees for a few months, and voilà, you have a dry wine bearing a subtle hue ranging from pale onion skin to salmon pink to one of the gorgeous light pink lipstick-shades that were so in vogue among 1960s actresses.

For long, South African rosés were made sweet and sticky, the colour more candy-floss than the blossom duskiness of the classics. But over the past 15 years more-and-more wineries have gone the classic Provençal route of offering dry rosés showing a more refined colour. It is not just about colour, though. Remember, these wines are made from red grapes and even if the time the wine spends on the colour-enhancing skins is brief, the wines do grasp some lovely berry flavours and a hint of tannin to give them a presence in the mouth.

What local producers also have going for them, is the national red grape of South Africa, namely Pinotage. This has shown to make brilliant rosés, therefore giving our rosé-offering an edge on what can be expected from the French stuff.

Delheim Estate in Stellenbosch was one of the pioneers of Pinotage rosé, and due to its success continues to be one of the leaders in Cape rosé production.

The Delheim Pinotage Rosé has a cherry-blossom colour and what stands-out for me is its bracing dryness. As a rampant enjoyer of all things cold and refreshing – including beer and gin-and-tonic – the Delheim Rosé can be found in my fridge for most of the summer months. And I have no qualms about adding an ice-cube or two to the glass to increase the pleasure, as this is the kind of wine for drinking with wanton abandon.

Bone-dry, the wine has subtle notes of plums and crunchy berries with a bracing finish full of zest and accompanied by that moreish calling. It is the ideal partner to sushi, especially if you like to go heavy on the wasabi, and is truly summer in a glass.

The world-famous Kanonkop Estate, like Delheim situated on Stellenbosch’s Simonsberg, is known for robust red wines, including the Paul Sauer Bordeaux-style that is arguably the country’s finest offering. But this iconic farm could, too, not let the opportunity pass of tapping into the lucrative rosé market, and its Kanonkop Pinotage Rosé has become one of the most popular wines in this category.

Sourcing the finest Pinotage grapes, the wine is oozed off the skins, the ferment and other winemaking stages presided over by Kanonkop’s wizard winemaker Abrie Beeslaar. The result is an astounding rosé that I would like to see in a line-up of the best the world has to offer. For besides being a most charming pink wine, this has a true taste of the Cape.

Sure, being of local DNA, Pinotage does give the wine a wow factor with the vivid, bright berry profile and an underlying savoury character. But along with this elegant cool freshness comes a brisk note of herbaceous fynbos together with a saline, maritime thread.

Even served ice-cold and merrily glugged, there is a discernible refinement in the wine, true polished  class showing that despite its glitzy fashionable image, rosé does manage to get an edge on the porch of wine greatness.

For something completely different, there is the Diemersdal Sauvignon Rosé. Diemersdal proprietor and winemaker Thys Louw is a classically orientated winemaker, but now and again he goes off-kilter, following his nose and with successful results.

So, Diemersdal Sauvignon Rosé eschews the conventional route in the winemaking process. Two Sauvignon grape varieties are used: The red Cabernet Sauvignon and its white partner Sauvignon Blanc. (Incidentally, Cabernet Sauvignon as a variety resulted in France as a cross between Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc, making the weighty Cabernet the offspring of the fresh white Blanc.)

Sauvignon Blanc forms the foundations of the Diemersdal Sauvignon Rosé, and the pale garnet hue results from Thys simply adding a dollop of Cabernet Sauvignon to the white wine.

The result is a fullish rosé, dry, but oozing black-current and cherry riding the characteristic wave of nettle and gooseberry freshness Sauvignon Blanc is known for. Invigorating and juicy, this wine is brilliant with fish just-off the braai-coals or a spicy curry.

But as we rosé-lovers know, one does not need guidance or parameters to live this style of wine, as a rosé of any name remains just as delightful and enjoyable.  

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Snoek: Classic Fish of the Cape

Snoek is not so much a fish as it is a Cape cultural phenomenon. When the large shoals comprising thousands of these lean, torpedo-shaped marine creatures begin to run around the West and South Coast of the Western Cape, there is a buzz in the air. A tangible energy and, for a while, joy and blessing, and that feeling of achievement by the fishermen who set-off on their boats, the mornings dark and kelpy, to catch the snoek. For them it is a livelihood, and a good seasonal one when the snoek shoals run thick and long, as they have done over the past three weeks. And continue to do so.

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Harvest Time: It’s a Wonderful World

Harvest time in the winelands thrusts emotions to the fore, memories of pain and feelings of joy and wonder. Admiration and respect, mucho. This time of year also has me convinced that the bringing in of the grapes, the crush and the seeing of new wines on their way, this is what forges the vocation and skill of a winemaker. Every harvest past and that of now and of each following year, combined into a knotted string or collection of notches, this determines a winemaker’s destiny, will define the legacy they leave behind.

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The Majestic Eternal Classics

Last time I looked, the offering of South African wines was running to over 8 000 different units varying in prices, styles and types of packaging. That is a hell of a lot of wine diversity in a country only making 4% of the world’s wine, but this also gives one an idea of the plethora of wine brands available to the local consumer.

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The Real Great White Hope

In the world of serious wine recognition, South African Sauvignon Blanc appears to be a victim of its own success. In its own country.

During a recent consumer survey done by MediaVision Communications among wine drinkers in Gauteng, the Western Cape and KZN aged between 25 and 50, Sauvignon Blanc was identified by far as the respondents’ “favourite” white wine variety.

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The Force of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc – but is it Culture?

BLENHEIM, New Zealand. – When renowned American wine writer and critic Matt Kramer referred to it as the biggest single success story the modern wine world has seen, he wasn’t kidding. The category known as New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has in 46 years grown from literally zero vines and nada litres to 24 000ha of vineyard planted in the dry alluvial and clay soils on the South Island’s Marlborough region, seeing 340 000 tons of grapes crushed annually and making 255m litres of wine.

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