HISTORY OF MONT DU TOIT
Stephan du Toit, who has had Mont du Toit since 1996, continues that tradition, inspired by Stephan’s childhood memories of his father’s wine farm. His father, also a trained lawyer, had in turn inherited his love of the vine from his childhood in the Swartland. Notwithstanding his city workplace, he would rise at four, often with Stephan, to visit his vineyards on the outskirts of Stellenbosch.
When Stephan’s father was posted abroad on diplomatic service, the tradition was broken for a while – but energetically resumed at Mont du Toit by Stephan, a senior advocate.
Some 22 hectares of vineyards lie at the foot of the Hawequa mountain, below the Du Toits Kloof Pass. That name recalls the early exploration by generations of du Toits of the route to the hinterland over the mountain range. The word “Hawequa” is a Khoi word, meaning the place of the murderers. The mountain gained this name because it was a retreat for the poison-arrow bearing San (Bushmen), who used to raid the pastoral Khoi in the valleys below.
From the outset, the help of two renowned German vintners, Bernd Philippi and the late Bernhard Breuer was enlisted. They, with Stephan, planned vineyards and cellars – the latter built into a slope to enable the wine to be moved by gravity. A vaulted, cooled underground maturation cellar houses the oak barrels in which Mont du Toit matures for up to 20 months. Bernd still advises and pays regular visits to the winery each year.
THE CELLAR & VINEYARD
Mont du Toit Kelder lies at the foothills of the Hawequa mountain range, overlooking Wellington, Western Cape, at the heart of wine production in South Africa, some 65 km north-north-east of Cape Town.
Some 22 hectares of vines grow on sunny, north and northwest facing slopes of weathered granite and Clovelly Hutton soils, with sandy loam in the lower areas. Mainly red varieties have so far been planted – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz, Alicante Bouschet, Mourvedre, Petit Verdot, Tinta Barocca. A small block of Viognier supplements the range.
Wine production at Mont du Toit is based on a traditional ‘low-tech’ approach. The entire Mont du Toit philosophy relies on the growing of the right grapes, keeping yields down, doing green harvesting (pruning away excessive grapes) at veraison and meticulously selecting only fully ripe fruit by hand during harvest time.
The 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 into the fermentation tanks where maceration takes place for extended periods, enhancing both colour and flavour. From the fermentation cellar the wine is fed by gravity into mainly French oak barrels lying in a vaulted, red-bricked underground maturation cellar. A small basket press gently extracts the remaining juice.
The wines mature for up to 20 months, under carefully controlled temperatures.
Skillful blending of wines made from the various grape varieties achieves a harmonious complexity of flavours and aromas.
Please note: Wine Tastings are by appointment only.
From the outset, wine-making at Mont du Toit has been under the inspirational guidance of the renowned German vintner, Bernd Philippi of Kallstadt in the Palatinate, Germany.
He was chosen as 1998 wine-maker of the year by Feinschmecker Weingourmet, and in 2005 won the award for making the best wine in Germany.
His vast international experience, stretching from British Columbia, over the Portuguese Douro region, Majorca and as far as China has gone into Mont du Toit’s vineyard plantings, vineyard treatment, harvesting methods, cellar lay-out, cellar practices and wine handling. His trained and sensitive palate has been responsible for the soft, well-structured, balanced and elegant blends which are the hallmarks of Mont du Toit.
His skills have been carried over the South African team at Mont du Toit.
We are deeply saddened by the recent death of our mentor and friend, Bernd Philippi, after a long sick bed. Bernd guided and inspired Mont du Toit for over two decades ensuring we measured up to his standards. He was a legendary winemaker in Germany known for his exacting discipline as winemaker but also for his personal honesty and kindness. Mont du Toit will miss him dearly, as a mentor and friend.
Veteran winemaker Philip Costandius has joined the ranks of the Mont Du Toit team and supervises the winemaking. Philip brings with him a wealth of experience especially with regards to the Bordeaux varieties for which Mont Du Toit has become famous. With the necessary passion and dedication, Philip’s aim is to convert the excellent grapes of Mont Du Toit into benchmark wines appropriate to the terroir.
Book a tasting with our winemaker.
Mont du Toit seeks to produce full-bodied red wines characterized by balance, fruit and elegance. This it achieves by traditional, conservative methods and meticulous attention in vineyard and cellar. This “traditional approach eschews “technical” intervention in the wine-making process. Careful tending of the vineyard, soil renewal through composting, pruning for low yields, selective succouring by hand, verification and control of soil humidity, foliage development, a conservative pest control approach all contribute to producing the best possible grapes.
Mont du Toit subscribes to the Integrated Production of Wine programme. This sets standards for eco-friendly practices in the vineyard and on the farm.
Mont Du Toit has also been certified by the Wine & Agricultural Ethical Trade Association (Wieta).
- A stainless steel cooling plant installed at our underground cellar, assures careful temperature control whilst the wine matures in oak barrels.
- Power breakdowns in the Western Cape are a feature and shut down cooling plants. To ensure that our maturing wines are not jeopardised we have acquired our own power plant which eliminates this danger.
- Our red wines are gently pressed using a traditional basket press.
- The production cellar is built into a slope, to allow gravity to play a role in moving the wine.
MONT DU TOIT AND LES ABEILLES
His Cape bees, apis mellifera capensis, actively promote pollination and produce delicious natural honey. This he markets under the name Les Abeilles, meaning ‘the bees’ in French. His products are also available through Mont du Toit. Albertus is also active in community work. He coaches rugby in local schools, giving back to the sport he loves.