The GD 1 Group

The GD 1 group was established in 2018 with 10 Franschhoek producers. Inspired from a Hunter Valley tasting of Semillon, the aim of the project is to establish a new, acceptable and more consumer driven style of Franschhoek Semillon that steers away from the conventional or traditional styles that we have become accustom to over the years. As you know, Semillon is such a huge draw card for Franschhoek based on how differentiated the style of Franschhoek Semillon is to any Semillon in South Africa and the world for that matter.
The question raised in 2018 was how could a group reimagine Franschhoek Semillon to the point of creating a blueprint for production that could be used throughout the valley by winemakers and producers wanting to pursue this style.
The group isolated a single vineyard of Semillon GD 1 clone (Groendruif Een) growing on Glenwood Vineyards large enough for 10 producers to receive a batch of grapes relevant to their cellar size to produce. On inception in 2019, the concept for this year was to produce at least 10 varying styles of Semillon that we could dissect throughout the year in a series of blind tastings. There was no limit on what you could use in terms of the production of the wine so long as each producer maintained their allocated style i.e. skin contact, barrel fermentation, wild yeast etc.
The results they were wanting to achieve was a clear consensus of the most suitable and highest quality wine amongst the 10 winemakers based on a average score on the 100 point scale. It became very clear throughout the year that the highest scoring wine/s were the wines that were tank fermented, fresh, lively with no malo – lactic fermentation.
This set the stage for year 2 in 2020 to focus or hone in on particular parameters such as yeast choice, fermentation temperature, lees contact post fermentation, reductive vs oxidative winemaking, acid additions and choice of acids, whole bunch pressing vs crushing/de – stalking. The only constant for 2020 was that the wine had to be tank fermented in stainless steel and grapes of course arising from the Glenwood vineyard.
Here again the results were fascinating and orchestrated through online Zoom tastings during lockdown as travel to meet was not permitted. They arranged drop off points for the samples at a central zone whereby producers could collect their set of 10 wines to evaluate and score. Scores were collated during the Zoom meetings again based on the 100 point system. The best performing wines were the ones that were crushed and made in a reductive, fresher style.
To date this has been a great, “geeky” wine project where everybody involved been instrumental in its current success. The biggest driver for the group is that the project is devoid of any individual wine egos which is always dangerous to derailing any initiative. Everybody is super keen and interested in the further success of GD 1.
The Winemakers:
Clayton Reabow – Moreson
Craig McNaught – Stony Brook Vineyards
Mark van Buuren – Anthonij Rupert Wines
DP Burger – GlenWood
Wikus Pretorius – la Petite Ferme
Dustin Osbourne – Mont Rochelle
Wynand Grobler – de Kleine Wyn
Marozanne Bieldt and Rob Armstrong – Haut Espoir
JD Roussow – Wildeberg
Tim Hoek – Haute Cabriere