Just when we, as the winemaking team here at De Toren Private Cellar thought the next vintage couldn’t be more pronounced than previous vintages, along came 2020. The exquisite climate conditions (with attitude) endured during this season have, in my humble opinion, ultimately add true depth and concentration to the current 2020 vintage.
Since the growing season commenced, we experienced what Cape Town is so well known for. Some strong winds during the month of September 2019 accompanied by rain and a few consecutive days of extended heat, as expected in the late summer stages, round about February.
I can without a doubt say that 2020 was one of the windier seasons I have experienced thus far, which made this season a slight bit more challenging than usual. But, that’s the beauty of nature – not one day or year is ever the same! During flowering, excessive winds are usually not favourable as it ultimately affect your fruit set, since these flowers are quite frail and can easily be lost. Each of these flowers are destined to become a berry and will affect how compacted and heavy the bunches become. At De Toren, we only keep a certain number of bunches per vine to ensure that we are able to grow concentrated and complex berries. Having less berries do ensure higher quality, but it also comes with greater risk, since you do not have extra bunches or berries to ‘fall back on’. So, instead of working against nature, we always choose to work WITH nature. In an attempt to minimise the negative effect of these stronger September winds in our vineyards, we ensured that our De Toren vines consistently received optimum nutrition throughout the season. This provided the flowers with the best possible chance of being pollinated, resulting in the crop for the 2020 vintage. As time passed we did our crop estimation and it arise that our crop did not suffer any excessive losses. Our plan worked!
We came out of a somewhat drier than usual winter, accompanied by slightly warmer weather conditions. However, despite this we still received more than enough rain to sufficiently fill the soil profile completely, to aid the vines coming out of dormancy. As the season progressed, we received some more rain during the growth season which usually creates an ideal micro climate for diseases, especially the Fungus origin types. But, here it goes to show how beautiful nature works… Those winds that we were so concerned about during Spring, sure helped getting rid of any excessive moisture in the vine canopies, keeping any potential threats supressed. It’s a story of give and take at its best!
From September onwards, the remainder of the season up to December, was quite moderate and cool. We did not experience any severe heat waves or scorching temperatures which resulted in bud break and Veraison being equal. This is rather favourable, as there weren’t any ripeness variances in each lot. This also ensured the abundance of phenolics such as colour and tannins produced. According to my annual statistical report, the 2020 vintage at De Toren definitely shows more colour than any other vintage over the past five years, if not longer.
As expected, January and February was accompanied by slightly higher temperatures and no rain at all during harvest. We made sure to use these conditions to our advantage, being able to concentrate the berries by a manner of controlled dehydration, using very specific drip irrigation techniques and timing schedules. The warmer temperatures also enabled us to reach the desired sugar and maturity level with ease. Having received enough rainfall in 2019 to build up nutrient reserves in the vines prior to dormancy, played a big role in the forming of the 2020 vintage. The sufficiency of water prior to dormancy will also allow our De Toren vines to be able to form luscious bunches with copious amount of flavour during the next season.
With the 2020 vintage grapes encapsulating all the complexity and intensity as shown in our analysis, I can without a doubt say that this could well turn out to be another stellar vintage for De Toren. With a season like this, the options are endless. We could concentrate these berries even more in the cellar and/ or we could add even more complexity of elegance and finesse. All very exciting, for us as the winemaking team at least.
I promise to keep you posted…