Diemersdal wins sought-after General Smuts trophy

Tuesday, 20 August, 2013
Ian du Toit
Diemersdal Estate has brought the South African Young Wine Show’s top award, the General Smuts Trophy for SA Champion Young Wine, home to the Durbanville valley for the first time since the show’s inception in 1883.

The lauded wine is a barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc, a variety that Diemersdal regards as one of its specialities and with which the valley has become synonymous.

One of 110 Sauvignon Blancs entered in this annual judging of wines from the current vintage – some 2 060 wines were tasted blind by panels in the various classes this year – the Diemersdal barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc was awarded the John McDonald trophy for the champion Sauvignon Blanc on show. As such, it competed against 16 other trophy winners in various varietal and style categories in the final judging for the highest accolade: the General Smuts Trophy.

Sixth-generation vintner Thys Louw – the Louw family has been vinifying fine wine here for over 150 years – says he’ll probably bottle the winning Sauvignon Blanc towards the end of the year, for release in early 2014 under the estate’s flagship MM Louw label. Of the wine’s provenance, Louw says it comes from one of the farm’s oldest blocks, which delivers a wine with a distinctive minerality and flintiness combined with a tropical fruitiness.

The bottle will also carry the new General Smuts trophy-winning sticker, instituted last year by the SA National Wine Show Association (SANWSA) under whose auspices this annual judging of wines from the current vintage is held.

Said SANWSA chairman Charles Hopkins: ‘It seems that the 2013 vintage has produced some great Sauvignon Blanc wines and it is quite fitting then that the variety has won the General Smuts trophy.’

The star-studded wine was one of several Sauvignon Blancs entered by Louw and his fellow winemaker at Diemersdal, Mari Branders, this year. Their prowess with the variety, matched with the versatile terroir of Diemersdal’s vineyards in the typically hilly ward of Durbanville, with its cool, maritime climate, just 10km from the chilly Atlantic Ocean, also earned them accolades for two unwooded sauvignon blancs.

Add to this the Prof CJ Theron trophy in the class for unwooded Pinotage, as well as a gold award for a wooded Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Diemersdal team’s delight at their 2013 vintage’s showing was understandable.

Besides being reserved for their barrel-fermented and - matured Sauvignon Blanc, the MM Louw label also appears on their Estate Red, a Bordeaux-style blend. Bottlings are further tiered under a Reserve label and the Diemersdal Estate label, as well as the entry-level Matys range, all of which include one or more Sauvignon Blancs.

The secret behind the versatility of wine styles of award-winning quality produced by Diemersdal is the Durbanville valley’s topography. Dominated by a range of south-to-north-running hills, it offers a variety of altitudes and aspects. South- and east-facing slopes provide cooler options for specific varieties and flavour components, while north- to north-west-facing aspects are ideal for varieties that thrive in slightly warmer conditions.