Susan Von Hemert is a lady who has a passion for promoting education to improve the lives of underprivileged youth. She decided to gather her wine club members in the USA for a De Toren Vertical Tasting with vintages ranging from 2001 to 2011 to raise funds for this charity.

The evening was an overwhelming success. The members raised funds for a charity dear to their hearts; Education For All Children (EFAC). EFAC was founded by a childhood friend of Susan’s husband, Phil, who undertook vigorous research on how they could not only help with education, but bridge that education to employment, through mentoring workshops throughout their school experience. Their metrics are quite impressive with their students rating in the top percentage of all Kenyan high schools. Susan and Phil support two students and are very anxious to meet them when they travel to Kenya in January 2017.

The Von Hemerts transformed their home into an African safari camp to conduct the tasting. The tasting was presented in short flights and the food pairings changed with each of the three flights. Surprisingly, many of their fellow wine club members had never done a vertical tasting and were genuinely surprised at the wide range of flavour changes throughout the vintages. After each flight, Susan read the De Toren wine tasting notes to them (they were not passed out before hand, so not to prejudice their taste buds) and it was quite fun to hear that many of the participants recognised some of the flavours the winemaker described in his tasting notes.

The participants concluded that the 2001-2003 were quite bold and complex, with the 2003 being the most widely favoured. The 2004-2007 were the most popular with the participants rating them as the most similar while the 2008-2011 found a popularity as well with comments like “they taste young but they are not” (not a negative comment). In general the best ratings came from 2003, 2006, 2011 – quite a range.