Du Toitskloof Sauvignon Blanc: Old Favourite, Brand New Cellar
Wine is made in the vineyard, states the standard adage. But science and technology is an integral part, especially for wineries like Du Toitskloof Wines who have to produce substantial volumes of wine of consistent quality.
According to Du Toitskloof Cellarmaster Shawn Thomson, the brand new harvesting cellar commissioned for the 2015 crush has had a profound effect on wine quality.
“Our Sauvignon Blanc, of which the 2015 vintage has just been released, benefitted from this new technology which includes two new pneumatic Bucher presses that press the wine under oxygen-free conditions,” he says. “Both presses are connected to two flexible containers of nitrogen which is drawn into the machines to ensure fruit is processed in a totally oxygen-free environment. This is ideal for making Sauvignon Blanc and as a result this year’s wine is showing a wonderful fresh character, with the medley of friendly fruit-flavours Du Toitskloof Sauvignon Blanc has become known for.”
Du Toitskloof Wines’ new facility is capable of handling 700 tons of grapes daily if required. The cellar harvests an average of 15 000 tons per annum.
“This year’s Du Toitskloof Sauvignon Blanc comes from a vintage during which conditions were directly opposite to last year’s,” says Shawn. “The winter of 2014 was short and nowhere as cold and wet as 2013. And due to the hot, dry spring we started harvesting about 10 days earlier than the average. ”
“However, the grapes adapt to these conditions as Sauvignon Blanc vineyards are part of the Breedekloof’s natural landscape and able to handle vagaries in climate while still producing fruit of desired quality. When we started harvesting so early we were quite tentative about the fruit quality, but from the first batch we knew that the wine was going to express the verve, varietal character and stylistic integrity Du Toitskloof Sauvignon Blanc has become known for.”
Shawn harvests grapes in different batches of ripeness. “From fresh, greener grapes to those that have had time to hang and are already nice and ripe,” he says. “This approach gives me and my cellar team a fantastic variety of Sauvignon Blanc grapes to work with. It is almost like painting a canvas – green, grassy flavours are added to the riper flavours of pear and apple, and if we want to add that dash of sunny, tropical flavours, the riper grapes are available to achieve this. And so we continue to blend the different flavour components until we find the perfect balance.”
Shawn also believes in the important role that lees contact plays. The lees are those fine bits of grape flesh that settles out of the juice after the harvesting of the fruit, and is loaded with natural flavours. “You don’t want any lees in your finished wine, but it is important that the juice and young wine get sufficient contact with the lees so that by the time the final product is filtered, the Sauvignon Blanc is packed with the most complex flavours possible. And much of that is found in the lees.”
The fact that Du Toitskloof has been one of South Africa’s favourite Sauvignon Blanc wines over the past 10 years, is testament to a winning recipe. What is the secret behind this success?
“Quality always remains the cornerstone,” according to Shawn. “Our region has also proven itself to be an excellent one for Sauvignon Blanc. It is a myth that cultivars such as Sauvignon Blanc only thrive in very cool conditions. The Breedekloof’s cold, wet winters and abundance of summer sunshine give Sauvignon Blanc a delicious fruity character, while the freshness that makes this variety so appealing is still preserved. Not to mention the fact that Du Toitskloof offers the market the best quality wines at the best possible price. At under R40 per bottle, our wine offers the type of value for money that makes it impossible for friend or foe to resist!”