Our New Sauvignon Blanc Making Waves!

 

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!”

Du Toitskloof Sponsors SA’s Leading Wine Writing Competition

Entries for South Africa’s richest wine writing competition are now officially open. The Du Toitskloof SA Wine Writer Competition, in association with Standard Bank, invites wine writers who have over the past year published at least one article in print or on-line to submit entries before or on the closing date of 30 September 2015.

This is the third year the competition is held, with the writer of the winning piece once again pocketing R30 000.

According to Marius Louw, CEO of Du Toitskloof Wines, this year’s theme asks participants to look into the crystal ball and predict what the South African wine industry will look like 20 years from now.

“One of the features of today’s wine industry which has been written on extensively by local and international commentators, is the vast changes that have taken place in the industry over the past two decades,” says Louw. “With this in mind, for this year’s wine writing competition we would like to see entrants predicting what they deem to be an industry scenario for 2035.

“Change has characterised the industry over the past 20 years. Exports have increased. The number of wineries and brands have grown beyond belief. Certain grape varieties and wine styles have fallen out of fashion, replaced by the new. Bulk wine has become a major force. Overall, exciting times.

“Now, what lies ahead for the next two decades? This is what the Du Toitskloof Wine Writer of the Year Competition, in association with Standard Bank, would like to hear your views on. In an article of between 1 500 and 2000 words, sketch a scenario for SA Wine Industry 2035. There are no restrictions as to the features you wish to discuss – it could be the proliferation of one grape variety or wine style, or your piece could include various aspects as diverse as local consumption, untapped export markets and new wine styles.

“Or, what about the Government’s pending legislation restricting liquor consumption as well as the challenges surrounding land reform? This is a chance to let your imagination run free, using your experience of the changes the industry has undergone since 1995.”

Willie du Plessis, head of Standard Bank’s Business Banking in the Western Cape, associate sponsors of the competition, says the theme is particularly relevant in light of the challenges the South African wine industry faces on various fronts.

“It will be fascinating to read the views the entrants of the competition have on the future state of the South African wine industry,” he says. “The industry has changed hand-over-fist over the past 20 years, and due to its dynamic nature, nobody can truly predict how it will look two decades from now. But I am sure the imaginative and insightful team of South African wine writers will have an interesting time trying to do so.

“As an organisation which makes use of scenario planning, Standard Bank looks forward to these entries and the insights they will no doubt offer.”

Besides the winner receiving a check for R30 000, the best pieces will be published in various local publications.

This year’s judges are Gabriël Botma, from the University of Stellenbosch’s Department of Journalism, Ian Glenn, former head of UCT’s Media Studies Department, Ingrid Jones, experienced journalist and currently editor of Mango Juice magazine and Joan Hambidge, well-known poet, novelist and literary critic who teaches creative writing at UCT.

Further details can be found at www.dutoitskloof.co.za under the heading Wine Writers Competition.

Bringing Hope and Learning to the Valley!

Over 1 200 primary school-children in the Western Cape winelands have for the first time been given access to broad-based reading material and internet technology through the newly-launched Du Toitskloof-Douglas Green Mobile Library.

This joint initiative between two leading South African wine producers, Du Toitskloof Wines from Rawsonville and Douglas Green Wine based in Wellington, takes the form of a brand new Mercedex Benz Axor truck fitted with a 15m trailer wherein lies a treasure trove of education material.

Some 5000 brand-new books, specially selected for school-children between Grades 1 and 5, stand between a set of ten out-of-the-box computers with full internet access from an on-board router. Included in the computer programmes is software developed by internationally renowned hand-eye co-ordination specialists Eye Gym which helps children to improve their learning skills.

The Du Toitskloof-Douglas Green Mobile Library will follow a route through the areas of Rawsonville, Goudini and Worcester, stopping for a full day at each of the nine primary schools identified as needing access to books and learning aides.

A full-time librarian will be on hand to assist the learners at every stop.

According to Marius Louw, CEO of Du Toitskloof Wines, the project was driven by a need he and his colleagues saw in the local community on a daily basis.

“When speaking to school-going children in this region, one quickly realises that the schools they attend have the bare minimum in terms of facilities and education aides,” he says. “And in their homes they would be fortunate to have access to a weekly newspaper. My question was: how can these children be expected to develop to their full potential if they do not have the bare necessities such as books – not to mention computers – at primary school level?”

As an integral part of the Breedekloof wine community, Louw says Du Toitskloof Wines is inextricably linked to the general well-being of the region’s people.

“As a major wine producer, we deem it our responsibility to address issues preventing our people, especially school children, from enjoying the same facilities that their peers in urbanised areas have access to. If not, they are doomed to become another cog in the cycle of poverty that is unfortunately still rife in the winelands.”

Louw expressed a special word of appreciation to Douglas Green Wine and its parent company DGB for joining the initiative.

“Without Douglas Green and DGB we would have had to wait a lot longer to get the wheels rolling,” says Louw. “We greatly appreciate DGB’s assistance in making this happen. If I may say so, this joint initiative between two wine companies is but one example of the South African wine industry’s overall commitment to the people living in the communities from where our wine is sourced.”

Tim Hutchinson, Executive Chairman of DGB, sees this mobile library and computer resource as an extremely worthy extension to our Fair Trade Wine “Douglas Green- Fair to All” brand.

“The funds generated from sales of these wines will help pay operating expenses. Because Du Toitskloof Winery manages community projects like these extremely well, the sustainability of this project is assured. A project that adds value to the education of local farm workers children makes sense for all of us involved.”

The project also has the support of the Western Cape’s Ministry of Education, the Cape Winelands Education District as well as that of the schools in the region who will benefit from the visits of this unique education facility. Like Douglas Green Wine, Du Toitskloof Wines will donate a share of its income derived from each litre of wine sold to establishing and maintaining the travelling library, with the rest of the funding coming from donors and sponsors.

The schools who are on the current list for visits from the Du Toitskloof-Douglas Green Library are primary schools Slanghoek, Wysersdrift, Weltevrede, Betel, Botha’s Halte, Petra Gedenk, Breederivier, Lorraine and Goudini Bad.

Shiraz is Smokin’ Hot

Lafras Huguenet

“Where there’s smoke,” Dolf Hershowitz said sitting down heavily on the bar-stool, “there’s a burning piece of Cape fynbos.”

Dolf and Colonel Zaccharias Snodgrass had just returned to Vermaaklikheid from the smouldering fleshpots of Cape Town, joining the rest of us at our rightful place in the Coop Tavern on the banks of the Duiwenhoks River. It was good to see the two old boys, even if Dolf still had a piece of ash on his forehead and the remnants of a half-eaten Bo-Kaap samoosa in his shirt pocket.

“That, Dolf, will be the last time I accept an invitation to visit the City in your company,” the Colonel said. “I thought I was going there for some rest and relaxation, and possibly to find the romance and passion of a lost youth. But the only old flame I saw was the one threatening to burn down my god-son’s house on the hills above Constantia.”

Stienie Greyling looked up from his newspaper. “Like my neighbour’s wife used to say: is that smoke I smell or are you just over here to borrow the lawnmower?”

Dolf sneered. “Not much to laugh about that burning mountain we saw,” he said opening the box he had brought with him. “The flames were as high as a Frans Steyn tackle. And even from where I was standing on Ou Kaapse Weg I could feel the fire was as hot as the Widow Nothnagel’s melktert.”

Despite the gripping account of a burning mountain, we were interested in the box Dolf was handling. And to our relief he pulled out a bottle of wine from it. This was a welcome change: Last time he went to Cape Town he bought each of us a bag of waterblommetjies and a Helen Zille tea-mug.

“Now that’s a sight for sore eyes,” Tielman Kempen said, walking over to the bar to assist in the unpacking of the range of beauties from Du Toitskloof Wines our Dolf had procured. “I see, Dolf, you and the Colonel were in such a hurry to leave the fires of Cape Town that you had to take the road through the Du Toitskloof tunnel.”

The Colonel nodded. “A man’s throat becomes awfully dry while one is telling the firefighters how to whack the flames, especially while you are running down-hill at the same time,” he said. “Du Toitskloof and its wines were needed to regain composure and physical excellence.”

Five glasses appeared. And Dolf began splashing wine of a reddish-purple hue into each of them.

“Du Toitskloof Shiraz,” said Dolf, “this is the best souvenir I could bring.”

Tielman nodded as he took a glass and sniffed. “I see what you mean. While the wine is brimming with fruit and hints of spice, there is delectable smokiness to be had in the aroma,” Tielman enthused, stopping to take a sip. Before continuing, “And on the mid-palate, the Du Toitskloof shows typical Shiraz notes of prune, white pepper and charcuterie.”

Stienie swallowed a mouthful of wine and nodded. “Heavens, Tielman, this wine-bug is biting you deep. Or are you training for this year’s Du Toitskloof SA Wine Writer Competition?”

“In association with Standard Bank,” the Colonel said, irritated. “The bearded, long-haired fellow from Du Toitskloof who made the last delivery kept stressing the important role of Standard Bank in creating a local culture of wine writing.”

Dolf raised his glass of Du Toitskloof Shiraz. “I’ll drink to that,” he said with a twinkle. “Tielman is our man, and a dead ringer to win that writing competition. With the inspiration we fellows give him, he only has to enter to win.” He smiled at Stienie. “And seeing we are splitting the winnings five-ways, I’ll be able to take the Widow Nothnagel with me during my next visit to Cape Town.”

We all had our own thoughts. If the Widow ever joined Dolf, it will not only be the fynbos that will burn.

Du Toitskloof Wines Kicks-off Harvest in New Cellar

Vintage 2015 will go down in the books as a new chapter in the history of Du Toitskloof Wines, the well-known wine cellar at the gateway to the Breedekloof Valley near the town of Rawsonville. With the harvest commencing towards the end of January, the grapes from the winery’s 22 farmer-shareholders are being treated in a brand new harvest facility which was erected on the premises over the past four months.

“Myself and the team have some really awesome equipment to ‘play’ with,” says Cellar Master Shawn Thomson. “The new cellar was built from scratch and has been equipped with everything a winery of our size could wish for. This includes two new pneumatic Bucher presses capable of handling 32 tons of grapes each, six separators and 10 settling tanks each holding 40 000 litres.

“This new equipment has enabled us to do 400 tons of Sauvignon Blanc grapes a day, where in the past 250 tons was a big ask. With Sauvignon Blanc being our first variety harvested, this year’s harvest has gotten off to a great start as far as logistics are concerned. Farmers can off-load their grapes and get back to the vineyards immediately, with no time-consuming queuing issues.”

Du Toitskloof Wines’ new facility will be capable of handling 700 tons of grapes daily if required. The cellar harvests an average of 15 000 tons per annum.

“With the Du Toitskloof Sauvignon Blanc being our calling card, I am really excited about what effect technology is going to have on our wine quality from this year onwards,” says Thomson. Both the new Bucher presses are connected to two flexible containers of nitrogen which is drawn into the presses to ensure fruit is processed in a totally oxygen-free environment. For Sauvignon Blanc, this is ideal and so far the juice has shown wonderful natural freshness which bodes well for our wine.”

Du Toitskloof is the first winery in South Africa to use 32 ton presses of this nature.

Thomson says that to date, yields are lower on Sauvignon Blanc. “Most of the grapes are coming in at between 20.5 and 23 ° Balling, allowing us to spread our combination between the tropical and more brisk, green flavours,” he says. “On the red side the farmers with Pinotage have been bringing fruit featuring tight bunches and berries oozing black fruit flavours.”

This year’s harvest has been characterised by dry conditions, although the legendary Rawsonville heat has largely stayed away.

“Spring and early summer were surprisingly cool in the valley, but when we hit some real 35 degree-plussers in January and we all thought – right, that’s it, here we go,” says Thomson. “But after four days the heat abated and we are back to sunny, temperate conditions, hence the healthy fruit we are getting. Let’s hold thumbs it stays this way.”

Tim James Does it Again in Du Toitskloof Wine Writer Competition

Make that a double. Tim James, well-known South African wine writer and associate editor of the Platter Wine Guide repeated his achievement last year by winning the 2014 Du Toitskloof South African Wine Writer Award which is held annually in association with Standard Bank.

To tie into Cape Town’s status as World Design Capital for 2014, entrants had to submit original unpublished pieces of between 1 500 and 2 000 discussing the role the local wine culture has played in contributing towards the values and aesthetics of design in the Western Cape.

James, from Kenilworth in Cape Town, scooped the winner’s cheque of R30 000 with a piece titled “Getting the Mountains into (and onto) the Bottle” narrating the role the mountains of the Cape winelands play in hosting the vineyards and creating of the regions wines right through to the packaging of the finished product.

Upon receiving the award, James said it is a great honour to receive this prize, thanking Du Toitskloof Wines for the initiative and the organising of the competition, as well as Standard Bank for the generous cheque.

Professor Gabriël Botma from the University of Stellenbosch’s Journalism Department and convenor of the judging panel, said that this year’s entries included a number of gems.

“This year’s topic was of a more creative nature, and the panel really enjoyed reading and analysing the diverse entries from accomplished wordsmiths,” he said. “We felt that the contestants enjoyed the opportunity of being able to express themselves and could see it in the lively nature of the writing.

“The entries used expressive and evocative language to put their viewpoints across, and there was an admirable degree of research and factual thoroughness. We believe that the standard of wine writing is commendably high in South Africa and if our wines command the same amount of respect, the industry is in rude health. As a journalist and academic I am aware of the importance of wine in writing. As American author Jim Harrison says: “The only advice I can give to aspiring writers is don’t do it unless you’re willing to give your whole life to it. Red wine and garlic also helps.”

This year’s other judges were Prof Ian Glenn from the University of Cape Town’s Department of Media Studies, travel writer Ernst Grundlingh from Weg/Go and former Wynboer editor Maureen Joubert.

The four other entrants of the Du Toitskloof SA Wine Writer of the Year, in association with Standard Bank, were Ricardo Gouveia, Melvyn Minnaar, Tshepang Molisina and Joanne Gibson.

The judging was done anonymously and the results audited by PWC.

Mobile Library Takes Shape

When not making wine, we try to do some good for the people in our beautiful Du Toitskloof wine region. A lot of good, actually. And we don’t try, we do it.

It is a well-known fact that we are the country’s largest producer of Fairtrade-certified wine, making our credentials as a responsible employer non-negotiable. But now, together with drinks company DGB Du Toitskloof has taken another big step in improving the lives of the people in our community.

Last Friday a get-together was held at the winery to announce this project: the Du Toitskloof-DGB Mobile Library. Why a library, and why mobile?

Firstly because we identified nine primary schools in our region who seriously need library facilities and reading material. The resources for these items are just not there. And secondly, a mobile library will ensure that the books and reading matter will get to each of the nine schools on a two-weekly basis.

Books, yes, but also computers connected to the internet as well as the “Eye Gym” learning system developed by Dr Sherylle Calder of international sporting fame.

Over 1000 primary school kids will be exposed to a whole new world. Things that other kids take for granted, such as illustrated children’s books, computers and a comfortable chair to sit in while reading, will roll onto the school premises on a regular basis. We truly believe that this will unleash the potential of our area’s children, empowering them with the insight, vision and creativity they need to take on the world.

They deserve it all, and from February next year a new era begins.