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H A B I T A T - Jul / Aug '09

Art of the Blend

 
Mont du Toit kelder lies at the foot of the Hawequas mountain, Wellington (Western Cape (SA). It borders on Paarl, the centre of wine  production in South Africa, some 65 km north-north-east of Cape Town. The property was acquired by Stephan and Carolina du Toit in 1996. Since then the farm has undergone fundamental change and improvements with the sole aim of producing premium red blends. Some 28 hectares of vines grow on north and northwest-facing slopes of weathered granite and Clovelly Hutton soils, with sandy loam in the lower areas. Only red varieties have been planted so far – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot , Cabernet Franc, Shiraz, Alicante Bouschet, Mour vedre, Petit Verdot and Tinta Barocca.
 
 Since the maiden vintage 11 years ago, Mont du Toit has received international recognition for the consistent high quality of its wines. Wine production at Mont du Toit is based on a traditional‘low-tech’ approach. The entire Mont du Toit philosophy relies on the cultivation of the right grapes, keeping yields down, green harvesting (pruning away excessive grapes) and meticulously selecting only ripe fruit by hand during harvest. Vineyards range in age from three to 25 years.
 
The older vines contribute mostly to the two principal blends, Le Sommet and Mont du Toit. Hand-picked grapes are collected in small crates and again undergo selection by hand on a mobile sorting table in the cellar. After de-stemming, the grapes are fed by gravity into the fermentation tanks where maceration takes place for extended periods, enhancing both colour and flavour. From the fermentation cellar the wine is again fed by gravity into small, mainly French - oak barrels lying in an underground maturation cellar. Malolactic fermentation takes place in the barrels and the wine matures within for up to two years. Each vineyard block and variety is vinified separately under the watchful eyes of winemaker Bernd Philippi, an award-winning and renowned winemaker from Germany. His meticulous tasting creates exceptional blends for each of the wines in the range. 
 
All Mont du Toit wines are blended from the cultivars referred to above. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz are themost important components, to which the other are added to the degree necessary to create the fruit, elegance, balance and lingering aftertaste required. There is no formula, and each year nature dictates how the blend is created.
 
The blends -
 
Hawequas: Named after the Mont du Toit mountain and for export only ; matured for 16 months in small oak barrels; fruity, well-rounded; well-suited for everyday drinking;
matches well with meat , cheese and pasta.
 
Les Coteaux: French for ‘slopes’ is matured up to 23 months in small oak barrels; fruit , balanced with a long aftertaste; bottle ageing capability of eight or more years.
Made only in some years.
 
Mont du Toit: The flagship wine is matured for 23 months in small oak barrels and bottle-aged for a further year before release. It reflects complexity ; red fruit; mouthfilling, elegant yet forceful with flavours on front , middle and back palate and a long aftertaste. A wine that will keep and grow for 10 or more years.
 
Le Sommet: ‘ The peak’ – is made only in exceptional years, in very limited quantities. This wine displays all the qualities of Mont du Toit but with a special refinement
and fullness that nature has engendered. A very special wine, it will bottle-age for 10 – 15 years.
 
 
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  • Mont du Toit is a producer of cult South African Mega Reds
    Daily Mail, London

  • This wonderfully flossy wine combines an impressive structure with rich, concentrated flavours
    The Sunday Telegraph Magazine, London

  • The Mont du Toit from South Africa is breathtaking, subtle and velvety
    Simon Hoggart, Wine Spectator, UK

  • Very complex but absolutely seamless, this is a beautiful wine and the one bottle I’d choose to exemplify the premise of this column. Sublime stuff.
    Michael Franz, Washington Post, USA

  • A quantum leap regarding wine needs to be mentioned. One of the most remarkable is Mont du Toit.
    Mario Scheuermann, The top wines of the world, Weincompass

  • And it paid off, with Mont du Toit wines achieving cult status in “Germany overnight..Or in Brillat-savarin speak, definitely better than sex...
    Neill Pendock, Sunday Times