There’s winemaking, and then there’s winemaking that’s been raised to a high art form... And when that art form encompasses rich terroir, lovingly reared vines, sustainable soil practices, and progressive and masterful cellar techniques that culminate in an impressive Right Bank-style Bordeaux blend of South African origin, the De Toren Z is achieved.
This more-than-accomplished wine has been met with no less than 47 major global accolades since 2004 and is consistently rated at over 90 points by wine critics from New York to London to Cape Town. De Toren “Zee” (as it is affectionately known) has perhaps achieved its most perfect expression yet with the recent release of a remarkable 2017 vintage that holds all the finesse prized by wine lovers the world over.
De Toren Z takes its distinctive, memorable name from the South (“Zuide”) or Zephyr that wafts cooling sea breezes over the ocean-facing vineyard blocks at boutique estate De Toren Private Cellar. De Toren is set on the Polkadraai Hills of Stellenbosch and commands a sweeping vista from the apex of the hills out towards the False Bay coastline. With the sea in sight, De Toren Z vines are planted in soil with a high clay content that is intensely suited to the planting of Merlot and the other “Noble Five” Bordeaux varietals that are harmoniously melded into this soft, approachable wine.
It’s for good reason that De Toren Z is so consistently awarded – critics, sommeliers and wine lovers are drawn to its versatility and flexibility. The berry-led aromas can be savoured on their own, but the wine also has a remarkable capacity for food pairings.
US-based sommelier Jennifer Foucher, who has worked at a variety of acclaimed restaurants in the States, including her role as Head Sommelier at Fabio Trabocchi in Washington DC, and the celebrated Del Posto in New York City, recommends pairing the De Toren Z with lamb, duck and beef. “It has the flexibility of Bordeaux with a little more fruit and is a lot more accessible. It has good acidity and weight. Very food-friendly. It satisfies the old world and new world wine lover,” she says.
One of the most prestigious international wine competitions in the world, Mundus Vini, bestowed Gold status on De Toren Z in 2012, prizing it over 6 000 wines from across the planet. In 2014 and 2018, it achieved SAWI Platinum and Grand Gold Status respectively. The 2016 vintage release pleased the UK’s renowned wine critic Tim Atkin so much, he gave it a sterling 93 points. Now, the 2017 vintage release is set to excel.
Although preceded by a formidable reputation, the De Toren Z 2017 may very well surpass its predecessors. Siobhan Thompson, Chief Executive at Wines of South Africa, has called this South African vintage “one of the best seen in years, especially in terms of quality.”
De Toren Winemaker Martin Fourie, describes the wine as “one of the most coveted vintages of the iconic De Toren Z.” De Toren Cellar Master, Charles Williams believes that De Toren Z 2017 “could easily be compared to some of our most successful vintages in the history of De Toren.”
All this high praise is the final, outward expression of many months of careful work in the cellar, sustainable farming practices, the intelligent harnessing of the soil, advantageous terroir, and the gift of gracious elements - the favourable weather conditions of the season contributed to making the 2017 vintage one of the finest collector’s vintages yet. Furthermore, Fourie attributes the success of the 2017 vintage to “vines that were perfectly balanced, restrained and boasted the smallest, most concentrated berries.”
The Merlot-dominated De Toren Z 2017 follows through perfectly on the palate, revealing subtle hints of spices, ripe blackberries, plum and cherries. Merlot does indeed play a significant role - Fourie believes the wine “is a wonderful celebration of this vintage’s pure varietal expression” – yet De Toren Z gracefully showcases each varietal’s unique characteristics and ultimately their fullest potential.
The integrated, complex and beautifully rounded tannins lend a velvety finish, yet the blend is vibrant and expressive. A pure and soft integration of oak lends a creaminess with a hint of aniseed on the nose. The wine’s exceptional ageing potential of 15 years plus comes with an immaculate developing palate.
There are a limited number of 2017 vintage cases available. Book a tasting experience at the newly renovated De Toren Manor House, or to order this wine, send an e-mail to email@example.com
For more information on the estate, visit https://de-toren.com/