Most wine pundits are of the opinion that Merlot does not suit South African terroir, or South African terroir does not suit the growing of world class Merlot. The winemaking team at De Toren however boldly beg to differ!
Proudly celebrating their 10th vintage of De Toren ‘Z’ and armed with a consistent string of local and international awards, achieving the magical ratings of 92 and 93 points from respected local and international wine magazines, one can truly say that the wine has ‘arrived’.
De Toren ‘Z’ is a Merlot dominated Bordeaux blend, with all 5 varieties grown on a gentle slope facing onto False Bay in the historic Stellenbosch wine growing region. This wine stems from the same originators of the acclaimed Fusion V and is vinified in the iconic De Toren Private Cellar under the same guidance as Fusion V. The critical difference is that Fusion V is a Left Bank inspired blend that evolves through several stages of critical tasting panels, whereby ‘Z’ is exclusively a Right Bank inspired, Terroir driven wine. This scientifically based project was originally labelled ‘Project Z’, due to the extreme nature of the research and planning, however became affectionately adopted for the brand over time, hence – De Toren ‘Z’.
The team set out to capture the influence of nature’s elements by aligning rootstocks and cultivars to identified soil parcels on a chosen single vineyard and planting an array of clones over 5 varieties to ultimately grow a great Merlot dominated wine. The make-up of the block comprises: Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.
The vines of ‘Project Z’ are predominantly South facing and resultantly cooler than their North facing counterparts, while also benefitting from the prevailing South East sea breezes generated off False Bay. The row direction has also been specifically planted in a NE to SW orientation as opposed to the normal N to S or E to W, to channel the cooling coastal breezes up each entire row, thereby producing a critically longer ripening period.
Ripeness and quality are monitored by state of the art Infrared Aerial Imaging which allows for the separate micro-vinification of clusters of grapes from the same block. Hand sorting is also practiced to ensure that only the best berries are selected, no grape skins are ever broken and no wine is ever pumped. Each berry that arrives at the cellar door is scrutinised through 3 different sorting phases from the field to the cellar, with the final stage personally enforced by the philosophy of owner Emil den Dulk: “If you wouldn’t eat it, toss it.”
The innovative cellar is a 100% gravity driven design, with its unique tower - hence ‘De Toren’. Pumps are considered ‘elements of torture’ and the absence thereof ensures that De Toren can live out the mantra of softly, softly, gently – as this is way De Toren treat their grapes and ultimately the finished wine.
In celebration of the landmark 10th vintage, the team have bottled a 100% Merlot from this special single vineyard and have called it the ‘De Toren Decade’.
Only 1760 individually numbered bottles of this once-off wine have been produced and will sell via the mailing list for R400 incl vat per bottle.
To celebrate this milestone, De Toren hosted a lunch at La Colombe where chef Scot Kirton (Eat Out Chef of The Year for 2015) created a jaw-dropping menu to compliment different vintages of the wine.