The premium ‘black label’ reserve wines are the pinnacle of TOKARA – defined by origin and vintage expression. Above all, the approach is centred on consistent quality that is never compromised, and made possible through TOKARA’s unique integration of science and art. Making use of state of the art technology during the initial vineyard planning phases - in order to match cultivar to terroir - has enabled TOKARA to produce wines today which are from the finest site-specific vineyard blocks. Winemaker Miles Mossop’s creative flair and intimate knowledge, acquired over years of discerning individual components, culminates in an intricate blending process for each final wine in the Director’s Reserve andReserve Collection ranges.
For winemaker Miles Mossop and viticulturist Aidan Morton who joined the fold in 2000 and 2001 respectively, this year is a considerable milestone: almost a decade-and-a-half of fine winemaking together. Their focus on producing the best possible wine from home-grown sites started out with digital terroir modelling. TOKARA was one of the first cellars to make commercial use of the NDVI process, which captures both visible and infrared light emitted from vineyards, creating a colour index of variances between specific vineyard blocks. Morton describes this as, ‘a kind of terroir spec wish-list’ and through this modelling exercise, ideal sites were matched to their specifications. Of note are the completely virus-free red vineyards. Precision viticulture is observed from the planning through to vineyard practices, with no machine harvesting – harvests are picked by hand – and sustainable methods and recycling are used wherever possible.
Today TOKARA’s grapes originate from two different sites, both owned and managed by TOKARA. Highlands in Elgin, affords ideal cool-climate white wine production and further opportunity to obtain distinctive variation. All TOKARA’s red varieties, on the other hand, are grown on its Stellenbosch property. This "home vineyard" area on the southern slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain harvests exceptional examples of various grape varietals and contributes to the greater portion of wine that fills TOKARA's 1000 ton cellar.
The TOKARA Director’s Reserve White is a Bordeaux-style white blend consisting of 69% Sauvignon Blanc and 31% Semillon. These grapes are grown on the higher and cooler sections of the Stellenbosch property, to southerly-facing slopes, overlooking False Bay and incidentally, serve as a popular location for the ‘resident’ leopards frequently spotted here. Despite a challenging vintage in 2014, exceptional wines showing great concentration were produced. With such a selective process of assessing different vineyards – the variation of site-specific blocks within each vineyard, various picking times according to ripeness levels, and then individual vinification treatment for each section – could see as many as 30 different components making their way to the final blending phases of a single wine.
With Cabernet serving as the back-bone to the TOKARA Directors Reserve Red, a critical part of the process is down to determining the individual blocks that go into a final ‘blend’ of Cabernet, and tweaking percentages of the oaking regime to obtain a consistent style. Each component (around 30 different sections of Cabernet) develops separately, 16 months in barrel. In total, there are well over 50 components at the start of composing and fine-tuning the final Bordeaux-style red blend. It then rests a further eight months in barrel.
The TOKARA Reserve Collection Sauvignon Blanc is tank-fermented from only the free-run juice of the best blocks from Elgin, and is then left on the lees for five months resulting in its fresh fruit character.
The TOKARA Reserve Collection Chardonnay is sourced from the warmer sites in Stellenbosch and is 100% barrel-fermented. Flavour development also varies over time, so as winemaker Miles Mossop notes, ‘a sweet spot is determined to attain that elegant balance of good acidity, freshness and fruit character.’
The TOKARA Reserve Collection Syrah is from the steepest and most well-drained soils in Stellenbosch, also the earliest ripening area on the farm. The 2012 vintage revealed early flavour development, and with 25% whole bunch fermentation, there’s a fragrant perfume.
With the TOKARA Reserve Collection red wines, there’s a further 18 to 20 months of bottle maturation before release. Miles Mossop says, ‘TOKARA reds are a contemporary style, without being typically ‘New World’ in the bold and bodacious sense: they all retain a key thread of elegance.’
The new vintage release wines for 2015 include:
2014 TOKARA Director’s Reserve White
2012 TOKARA Director’s Reserve Red
2008 TOKARA Director’s Reserve Five Year Potstill Brandy
2015 TOKARA Reserve Collection Sauvignon Blanc
2014 TOKARA Reserve Collection Chardonnay
2012 TOKARA Reserve Collection Syrah
Along with the deli, olive oils and award-winning restaurant, art is very much at the heart of TOKARA. This year celebrates the 10th anniversary of their Wine Made Art campaign – where students from the Marié Stander School of Art literally paint with wine. The exhibition is open for public viewing from 17 September 2015 until 31 January 2016.
TOKARA is open 9am-5pm weekdays and 10am-3pm on Saturdays and Sundays. For further information visit www.tokara.com