Durbanville’s champion wine producer a Sauvignon Blanc specialist with good reds, a South African first, plus…

RELATIVE to many other top South African wine estates, Diemersdal is humble in appearance – nothing very fancy, a rustic farm that in some ways has been slow to change with the times, and all the more charming for it. Within the ward of Durbanville, the farm stands apart to the north of the town – quite separate from most of the other cellars in the ward on a wine route all of its own… Different is what it is, in more ways than one. And/but when it comes to the wines, they compare with the best in the country – if not the world!!

Diemersdal was established as a farm over 300 years ago and since 1885 it has been managed and nurtured by six generations of the Louw family. Tienie Louw was running the show when in the mid-1970s the farm stepped up a gear from the predominantly grape growing, bulk wine business to focus increasingly on wines under the Diemersdal label. And more recently, particularly since 2005 with Thys Louw at the helm, the estate has risen to the ranks of Top 20 as regards SA white wine producers and Top 50 overall.

Dryland vineyards (no irrigation) with deep red soils and high clay content, no sorting tables (all of the machine-harvested grapes go into the press), traditional open fermenters for the reds and a state-of-the-art winery for the whites – these are just some of the factors combining to distinguish Diemersdal wines. The boss loves to experiment and he’s comfortable with a large portfolio – recently introduced was Grüner Veltliner, an Austrian variety producing a ‘mineral yet fruit-driven style’ of white wine never before made in South Africa, and now he’s dreaming of a Diemersdal Malbec.

Red wine wise, the flagship MM Louw and Private Collection (both Bordeaux-style blends) have reaped numerous good reviews – as has the Pinotage, one of South Africa’s very best. And white wine wise, while the wooded and unwooded Chardonnays are good to excellent, it’s the range of Sauvignon Blancs that most of the fuss tends to be about – especially the Reserve, the MM Louw and the Eight Rows, the latter classified among the Top 10 SA Sauvignon Blancs and one of only three Sauvignons in the Top Wine SA Hall of Fame.

The tasting venue and country-style restaurant are relaxed and friendly, with many visitors preferring to sit outdoors on the lawn looking onto the vineyards or on the terrace alongside the tasting room. Lunch Wednesday to Sunday (on Sunday by reservation only), dinner Thursday to Saturday.