Diemersdal launches the Wild Horseshoe, SA’s first skin fermented Sauvignon Blanc…
Diemersdal, the custodian of no less than five Sauvignon Blancs, I think, in an area renowned for its superb examples of this varietal, introduced yet another, the first in SA to be made in a process not normally associated with this cultivar. The Winemaker at this historic Durbanville estate, Thys Louw, is proud of this achievement as well he might be.
Usually when making Sauvignon Blanc, the skin is removed from the juice before fermentation begins. However, the Wild Horseshoe’s grapes were fermented for 96 hours with skin contact, before being aged for 11 months in oak barrels.
“Sauvignon Blanc is South Africa’s most popular single grape variety because the wine it produces usually has aromatic, crisp flavours which the consumer can identify with,” said Louw. “However, as a winemaker, you can’t help but ask yourself questions like ‘what will happen if…’, when you’ve worked with a particular grape for years and want to try something new. These questions are what led to us making Wild Horseshoe.”
The Wild Horseshoe got its name from the hundreds of old horseshoes workers have found in the Diemersdal vineyards throughout the years. “Viticulture has been practiced on Diemersdal since 1702. The work was done manually, with the help of horses, until the 1930s – which explains the horseshoes” says Thys. “The word ‘wild’ in the name doesn’t refer to thehorses, but to the fact that wild, spontaneous fermentation is part of the unique character of this wine.”
He says the most gratifying aspect of the new wine is the glimpse it has offered him into what a Sauvignon Blanc grape is capable of. “It’s showed me qualities of Sauvignon Blanc I’ve never experienced or been aware of. Hopefully a niche market for skin-fermented Sauvignon Blancs canbe created, which will promote the grape variety and the South African wine industry as a whole.”
During a recent visit to New Zealand, the most renowned producer of Sauvignon Blanc besides France, Louw was surprised how popular skin-fermented wines made from this cultivar were. “This style of wine adds depth to the Sauvignon Blanc and may attract a wider audience,” said Louw.
I found the wine delicious with nuances not easily available in Sauvignon Blanc. Very much a food wine, it should be enjoyed with a variety of shell fish and is fabulous with sushi.
Diemersdal Estate Durbanville
Words: Greg Landman