Terre Paisible Les Dames

SAUVIGNON BLANC MAY be the most popular wine among South African consumers, but due to its relatively short history as part of the Cape Winelands, there are not many Sauvignon Blancs showing the charms of wines made from old vineyards. However, Terre Paisible, the Franschhoek wine estate currently grabbing the attention of the wine world with its premium range of terroir-driven wines, is committed to showing the nuanced complexity of Old Vine Sauvignon Blanc in its Les Dames de 1987, made from a vineyard planted on the estate in, you guessed it, 1987.

The Terre Paisible vineyards in Franschhoek.

Since first appearing from the 2022 vintage, the Les Dames maiden release has been a welcome addition to the spectrum of South African Sauvignon Blancs, not only adding lustre to this dynamic varietal sector of the Cape wine industry, but also allowing consumers to experience the distinctive features of Sauvignon Blanc made from an old vineyard.

Terre Paisible’s Sauvignon Blanc vineyard, planted in 1987, lies on a patch of alluvial soil of sandy loam interspersed with large chunks of sandstone. Due to the low water level, the soil captures enough moisture to allow the vineyard to be farmed without additional irrigation. Despite the age of the vineyard, grape yields are a respectable five to eight tonnes per hectare.

Shirley van Wyk, MD of Terre Paisible, says this special Sauvignon Blanc vineyard produces a wine reflecting Terre Paisible’s values of conserving the Cape wine legacy, sustainability, and pursuing visceral terroir expression in its wine range.


Shirley van Wyk

“As South Africa’s most popular variety, consumers know what to expect from the grape – but a Sauvignon Blanc made from an old vineyard gives one a totally new reference for the variety. The fruit is more concentrated, the result of the older vines having to work harder in the growing season to ripen the grapes, thus imparting a more complete mouth-feel, firm acids and a luxurious texture”, says Shirley.

Grapes for Les Dames de 1987 Sauvignon Blanc are wholebunch pressed to draw maximum phenolic complexity from the fruit and the juice is fermented in stainless steel. Then the young wine is placed in 4 000L oak foudres for nine months.

“We don’t want a wooded wine as the aim is to maintain purity and freshness,” says Shirley. “The large oak foudres complement the structure and texture of the wine without imparting any wood-flavour to hamper the vibrant and unique expression of magnificent Old Vine Sauvignon Blanc.”

Terre Paisible winemaker Adam Mason adds, “Given the reputation Sauvignon Blanc has garnered in Bordeaux, France’s Loire Valley, and Marlborough in New Zealand, it should come as no surprise that alluvial soils with readily accessible reserves of groundwater are able to provide expressive Sauvignon Blanc grapes, and in turn delicious varietal wines. Terre Paisible, nestled on the banks of the Berg River at the gateway to Franschhoek, has given a glimpse of the potential Sauvignon Blanc offers under these conditions. I am perhaps more surprised than anyone, and pleasantly so, as until recently only areas perceived as especially cool or high in altitude were seriously considered worthy environments for the variety. Over the coming years I am sure much more will be revealed by this special site. I look forward to new insights and the opportunity to reimagine this classic variety.” V