After a hot and very dry summer, the winter was a cold one with night-time temperatures dropping to just above zero. This cold air is very necessary as the vines need to shut down for some deep winter sleep after the rigours of the growing season.
When the vineyards woke up with bud-break in August, the growing season began with even plant-life which is always a good sign. We could do with some more water in the dams and another decent splash or three of rain, but at this early stage of the season all is boding well. It is a good time at Du Toitskloof Wines.
Quest is Best
In 2011 Du Toitskloof began a new journey. Sourcing the best grapes from selected vineyards around the Cape, our winemakers Shawn Thomson and Willie Stofberg began to set about showing what our winery could really do.
Grapes were harvested in small batches. No expense or effort was spared in crafting two boutique wines, and so the Quest range was born.
The two red wines in the range were named Heroes Journey 1, a Bordeaux-driven blend, while Heroes Journey 2 is made from the softer, spicier Rhône varieties. The first Quest wines from the 2011 vintage exceeded all expectations in terms of quality.
Recently Quest Heroes Journey 1 and 2 hit the limelight with exceptional performances at South Africa's two leading wine shows, namely the Michelangelo Wine Awards and the illustrious Veritas.
The Quest Heroes Journey 1 2011 took a Double Gold medal at this year's Michelangelo International Wine and Spirits Awards, while the Heroes Journey 2 2012 won a Gold at the Veritas Competition. To add to this golden achievement, Du Toitskloof's Pinotage 2015 also clinched a Double Gold at the Michelangelo Awards.
These are great achievements as both competitions are rigorously judged by teams of international and local wine experts. The awards are apt recognition for the quality of the wines and the dedication and commitment of the cellar teams. But equally important is the fact that there is nothing like a few gold medals to make you stand out from the crowd and let the wine-loving consumer know of your standing in the quality stakes.
A Fresh Look for Selected Vineyard Series Wines
Earlier this year we introduced a new focused wine range under distinct revamped packaging. It is called the Du Toitskloof Selected Vineyards Series, and has received a keen reception among current and new customers.
The Selected Vineyard Series comprises a range of wines selected from vineyards in the Rawsonville region showing a fingerprint of terroir and a true taste of place. The range consists of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, Shiraz, Nebbiolo, Dimension red blend and a Pinotage Rosé.
According to Marius Louw, CEO of Du Toitskloof Wines, this range will offer customers access to a range of cultivar-specific wines of discerning quality carrying the seal of vineyard and regional authenticity.
For the Du Toitskloof Selected Vineyard Series, special parcels of vineyards displaying individual characteristics of excellence and bearing a site-specific character have been selected from which to produce a range of terroir-driven wines of unique varietal expression.
"During the growing season these vineyards are managed under the guidance of viticulture experts overseeing diligent pruning, suckering and canopy control schedules," says Louw. "At harvest time, the fruit is vinified in small, individual parcels in a specially built, state-of-the-art harvest cellar and wine-making facility, ensuring the resulting wines reflect the natural features of their vineyards of origin."
Louw says the exclusive packaging for this range was designed to complement the quality of the bottled product, as well as to introduce consumers to the focused approach used in creating these wines.
"The Selected Vineyard Series still shows the cultural heritage of Du Toitskloof, thereby complementing the other well-known labels in our range," he says. "The bolder logo and font, together with the clean modern look and sophisticated closure do justice to the effort the grape growers and the winemakers put into the finished product."
Not to mention the taste and flavour of these captivating wines!
Victory is ours after Annual Winelands Cook-off
In a fierce contest providing the most demanding cooking techniques to date in the annual Muratie-Du Toitskloof Cook-off, it was the home team from Rawsonville that romped to victory with a scintillating display of open-fire paella cooking.
This year saw the Boland's premier inter-winery cooking contest being held for the fifth time, this year on the spacious grounds of Du Toitskloof Wines. Both teams had to prepare a dish of paella over an open fire, with the only proviso being their version of the Spanish classic had to include one seafood item and one ingredient of land-dwelling animal flesh.
And after a rigorous round of judging by 24 Cape-based food aficionados, Du Toitskloof was voted the unanimous winner.
Both Du Toitskloof and Muratie showed that the winelands' paella makers respect the tradition involved in making paella. The correct Spanish rice was used. Each team knew the importance of getting a good flavourful tomato-based sofrito going with which to bind the dish. No expense was spared in the saffron department. And the all-important implementation of the do-not-stir tactic was applied with skill and guile.
But at the end of the day it came town to texture, overall taste and the choice of additional ingredients. Du Toitskloof added crayfish and squid heads to their topping of prawns, chicken and chorizo as well as simmering their dish in a crayfish stock, the scent of which had the Breedekloof Valley's entire fish eagle population circling over the cooking area.
Muratie incorporated grilled lamb ribs to their dish together with chorizo, chicken wings and prawns, making for an intriguing match-up of near-perfect paellas.
The great culinary rivalry between Du Toitskloof and Muratie continues next year with the history showing two wins for each team and one draw.
Next year's deciding showdown will be held at Muratie.
Wine and Words Join Forces with Du Toitskloof Sponsorship
The SU Woordfees' very successful first short story compilation, which was presented at the 2016 Woordfees, will have even more punch in 2017 when the writer of the best short story wins R30 000 thanks to a sponsorship by Du Toitskloof Wines.
On the involvement of Du Toitskloof Wines the executive, Marius Louw, says the competition is a natural result of the cellar's SA Wine Writers Competition which originated in 2013. "Over the last few years Du Toitskloof Wines have been working with the SU Woordfees in various capacities." He says the idea to help the SU Woordfees to identify shining new Afrikaans short stories gives an extra dimension to the wine industry's involvement with literature and culture.
The winner of this exciting competition, that has captured the imagination of the South African literary world, will be made in March at the 2017 SU Woordfees.
DON'T forget to stop off at Du Toitskloof Wines for a tasting or a replenishing bite to eat at Melissa's. We look forward to welcoming you.