The vintage of 2022 will certainly be remembered for decades to come, all thanks to another exceptional season!
During 2021, De Toren experienced the best winter rainfall in almost 10 years. The season was characterised by cool to moderate temperatures, with relatively small amounts of rain received during these months – more specifically, a mere 9 days of precipitation spanning the months of September to December. The environmental conditions were ideal which allowed for De Toren’s vines to grow and develop in a controlled manner that enhances the vibrancy of the grapes.
During January to March, a climatic change was however experienced, very different from what have been experienced earlier in the season. Compared to previous vintages, there were little to no rain and for a few days the thermometer reached 30 degrees Celsius. In the broader spectrum and in hindsight, it wasn’t a disadvantage, since there was a few more days where minimum temperatures were lower than normal, thus balancing out the two. Somewhat of a continental climate expression, one could say.
Most of De Toren’s grape varieties thrive under these high diurnal changes; the only variety a little less suited to fluctuating temperatures is Merlot, specifically when exposed to uncharacterised heat. However, with the balanced phenological growth, which we believe is greatly attributed to our organic approach, there were ample resources to create a more moderate environment for these grapes. On the back of this knowledge, it was especially important for the De Toren winemaking team to be fluid in approaching the maturity process, harvesting, and winemaking.
Initially, there was a 10-14 day delay expected, however, warmer temperatures nearing harvest reversed the unusual exposure to rain and the 2022 harvest officially commenced on the 22nd of February. The team began picking the Shiraz and Merlot grapes on the same day.
As a result of the season’s unique weather pattern, the sugar content was achieved at an ideal time. This helps to better understand how the flavours of the grapes will react within a few days and gives greater control over when specific parcels would be ready to harvest. Another brief harvest period of 23 days was experienced at De Toren, similar to what was experienced in 2021. Soon after the team picked the last grapes, a heavy rainstorm blew in, which would have diluted the Cabernet Sauvignon soaking in the moisture from the rain. Fortunately, De Toren was able to avoid this as the last of the crop was already safe and secure in the cellar.
It was the second consecutive year that there was a noticeable higher natural acidity in the must, along with the grape flavours that ripened at a slightly lower alcohol level. When organic farming practices were initially implemented at De Toren, it was expected that the grapes would, in time, reveal these characteristics. We are however already starting to bear the fruits of our labour, pun intended.
The present naturally acidity is an element that is covet for the wine to age gracefully in the bottle. The flavours tend to be more pronounced, giving a bit more room to be innovative with blends and winemaking techniques. Parallel to this, it was found that over the past 6 years of farming organically, we have experienced far less excessive growth in the vines. Excessive growth must normally be removed and therefore often deprives the vines of some of its much-needed nutrients. In addition, less disease and insect pressure seem to be present in the vineyards due to natural immunity being increased in the vine itself.
Overall, we are thrilled with the 2022 vintage’s elegance and texture. The next step somehow always seems to be the hardest, and that is called the art of waiting…
We were in a favourable position to harvest the blocks over a few days to get components of different ripeness. An aromatic spiciness came from earlier parcels and bold, rounder palates from riper parcels. The varieties in flavour will allow plenty of options once blending has started; having a wide spectrum of diverse components will express the vintage at best.
The aim is always to have a Merlot that expresses a slightly darker fruit component rather than red fruit; with this vintage we achieved just that along with a rather high natural acidity. The acidity accentuates the complex tannin structure of Merlot leading to firm, grippy tannins with a slight dryer note on the front palate.
We have been experimenting with smaller parcels and various fermentation techniques over the past three years and I believe we have dialled in on all those aspects along with the right barrel choices to show something special in the Malbec. Purple fruits and aromatics are what is aimed for and, having a Malbec wine that is soon to be released as a single varietal, our excitement is running high. So, make sure to be on the lookout!
Optimal ripeness was achieved with great vibrancy and concentration from these vines. The Cabernet Franc will have fine spicy notes, especially for the Edition Z portion, and great elegance for the Fusion V.
As mentioned in the opening, we averted the arrival of rain, so there was focused placed on the intensity and mouthfeel of the wines while having great aromatic fruit forward notes that works well with new expressive barrels. We ferment a large part in open, top barrels and we have fine-tuned our technique to bring forth stunning mouthfeel and length.
As De Toren’s youngest block of vineyards are coming of age, it is showing increasingly more violet and black fruit flavours along the wild tannin structure and colour development.
All things considered, De Toren’s winemaking team gained valuable knowledge during the 2022 season, ensuring further advances and refinements across the board to bring you exceptional wines, vintage after vintage.