"Without Prejudice" - July 2009
South African cult wine in Germany
by Eben van Wyk (July 2009)
Though South African wine exporters would no doubt appreciate a weaker currency in these circumstances, it is reported that wine exports increased 17 % to approximately 403 million litres for the year - compared with domestic consumption of approximately 305 million litres .
Fin24.com reported that South African wines represent the fastest growing segment in the UK Wine market where it occupies fifth place with 10% of the market. South Africa is the fourth biggest supplier in the German wine market, and the biggest in Sweden.
Mont du Toit of Wellington exports some 60% of its wine to Germany, where one of its wines has reached cult status. Mont du Toit lies at the foot of the Hawequa Mountains near Wellington. Though this winery may still be relatively unknown in South Africa, I suspect that the high quality reds produced will soon demand the name of this farm to become part of every wine snob's common parlance.
Johannesburg based advocate Stephan du Toit SC acquired the Mont du Toit farm in 1996 with a vision of producing the best red wines in the country. It appears he may well have managed to do so.
Local winemaker and farm manager PJ Geyer is assisted by international wine consultant Bernd Philippi, German wine maker of the year in 1998 and again in 2003, and the man behind Mont du Toit’s sought after red blends. The character and style of Mont du Toit's wines are unmistakeably leaning towards a more refined, classical European style of wine, unlike some South African wines with their bold and sometimes overpoweringly fruit characteristics.
Les Coteaux 2004
This is a sophisticated wine whose name is derived from the French word for "Slopes". It has a nice, Bordeaux -like nose with a prominent Shiraz taste. The wine is beautifully smooth with berry flavours and can be enjoyed now.
The Les Coteaux 2004 received a Swiss International Airlines Silver medal; an Old Mutual Wine Trophy Bronze and a SAA Business Class first prize. It is rated 3 out of 5 stars in Platters, but in my view is deserving of 4 stars. It's a bargain at R92 per bottle.
Mont du Toit 2003
The Mont du Toit is a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz and is the farm's flagship wine. UK wine magazine awarded the 1998 vintage the second best joint venture wine in the world, second only to Opus one, the product of the world famous joint venture between the legendary American Robert Mondovi and Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, owners of Chateaux Mouton Rothschild. It acquired cult status in Germany shortly thereafter.
The wine has a spicy nose; it is smooth and accessible and shows hints of fruit in a perfect balance. The wine has benefitted from four years in the bottle and it is perfect to drink now, though it could mature for some time in the bottle.
The wine received a deserving 4 out of 5 star rating in Platters; a Swiss International Airlines silver medal; a Decanter Bronze award and 5 stars in the ENO World Wine Awards in Germany. It retails for R157 per bottle.
Le Sommet 2003
Termed an "ambitious" blend, this remarkable wine (meaning 'the peak') is only produced in exceptional years from a secret blend. Each sip of this wine tastes like true perfection and I wish that I did not have to share this bottle with my fellow wine tasters.
The Le Sommet received 4.5 out of 5 stars in Platters and a Silver Decanter award. At a price of R535 per bottle this taste of heaven will unfortunately not be an everyday pleasure.
Blouvlei Wines were started five years ago by Stephan du Toit as an empowerment project to ensure that the employees of Mont Du Toit have a direct proprietary interest in the production and sale of wines.
Blouvlei Rosé 2008
The Blouvlei Rosé somehow turns from an unappealing reddish colour to a perfect light pink in the glass - sufficient reason to decant this wine before drinking. The Subtle hints of strawberry echoed in a berry taste make this a perfect summer lunchtime partner. A word of caution however, the ease with which this wine goes down is likely to lead to over consumption.
The wine retails at R35 per bottle. The taste of the wine (subject to resolving the inexplicable first colour impression and getting a snobbier label) would justify a much higher price.
Blouvlei Red 2008
Blouvlei Red is an easy drinking blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The wine is perfect as an everyday drinking wine and will be a good partner to a braai. It is perfect to drink now. The Blouvlei retails for a bargain R35 per bottle.
Visit the farm's website at www.montdutoit.co.za.
PS. Van Wyk is a director of Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr. His esteemed group of legal wine tasters was accused in last month's wine review of imbibing, which they understand to mean "to imbibe knowledge" or to "receive into the mind and retain such as "imbibe ethical principles". Accordingly, they accept the compliment.