Tokara the award-winning hilltop wine estate overlooking Stellenbosch, has emerged as the single best achiever in the WineMag 10 Year Old Wine Awards announced last week. In an age where a culture of instant gratification makes true icons very rare, Tokara was the highest scorer among top entrants, with three of its wines – two whites and a red blend – singled out among their peers.
The wines are the Tokara Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2007; Tokara Elgin Sauvignon Blanc 2007; and, Tokara Director’s Reserve red blend 2007. Considered an important indicator of wine excellence, the 10 Year Old Wine Awards were instituted to provide meaningful evaluation of this premium category. “Just how well do modern-era South African wines perform as they get older?” writes judging panel chairman and SA wine authority Christian Eedes in the competition report.
“One of the most important measures of great wine is that it should be age-worthy, that is it should become more pleasurable and more interesting to drink with time in the bottle, but the capacity of local wines to deliver on this is typically not examined in any meaningful way.”
A total of 72 entries from 41 producers were received – one Méthode Cap Classique, 15 white wines, 52 reds and four fortified wines. Of these, only 19 wines rated 90 points or more on the 100-point quality scale – six white wines, 10 red wines and three fortified wines.
“It is wonderful to see our wines acknowledged at this event,” says Tokara General Manager Karl Lambour. “The age-ability of wine is rarely the focus of contemporary championships even though a wine’s potential over time is an important consideration for connoisseurs and the serious collector of world wines.
“Our philosophy at Tokara reflects this in its range by including alongside wines suitable for drinking now, a fine collection crafted specifically to reward the patient wine-lover.”
Achieving the highest score of the trio, the Tokara Elgin Sauvignon Blanc 2007 achieved 94/100. The judges’ notes described the wine as having “a compelling nose of lime, green apple and blackcurrant plus an intriguing note of reduction”.
“Pristine on the palate – a great core of fruit plus zippy acidity, the finish long and pithy,” the report adds.
The wine was also mentioned by name in Eedes’ analysis. “Too many wines were merely sound rather than truly exciting,” he said. “One that did indeed capture the imagination was the Tokara Elgin Sauvignon Blanc 2007, which is looking pristine a decade on from vintage.”
The Tokara Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2007 scored 91/100. “The palate is rich and full, mellow but still very sound with a savoury finish,” said the report.
The Tokara Director’s Reserve red blend 2007 received 92/100. Comprising 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petit Verdot, 8% Malbec and 8% Merlot, the wine was matured for 20 months in French oak, 80% of it, new. The judging panel highlighted fresh herbs and some floral character before dark fruit, pencil shavings and some earthiness in its organoleptic assessment. “Rich and thick-textured on the palate, the finish long and savoury. Properly complex,” said the report.
The 10 Year Old Wine Awards judging panel was chaired by Eedes, editor of the eponymous wine publication, and further consisted of Roland Peens and James Pietersen. Wines were tasted blind. Final scores were awarded on the basis of discussion that involved re-tasting where necessary rather than relying solely on arithmetic averaging.
Tokara's accolades in this latest evaluation as well as its long list of local and international awards are testament to astute farming, the right varieties in the best locations and skill in the cellar. Tokara wines are made from top quality grapes exclusively from the farm’s own vineyards. As a result, a specific sense of place finds expression in the complexity and richness of Tokara wines. Balance, texture, elegance and the ability to age are their distinctive traits.
The winery itself lies among vineyards and olive groves on the crest of the Helshoogte Pass with views across False Bay. Tokara offers visitors a unique combination of award-winning wines, brandy and olive oils, a gallery of fine art, a restaurant featuring one of South Africa’s leading chefs as well as a delicatessen.