Our Winemaker & Viticulturist’s take on the 2019 Harvest…
The 26th of March marked the official conclusion of our 2019 harvest here at De Toren Private Cellar. This season once again presented a fantastic opportunity to observe just how adaptable our vines are and what a wonderful thing nature truly is. The 2019 vintage will without a doubt, be reminiscent of a number of things. Things that challenged us, complimented us, changed our thinking process, but above all, for the deliverance of the highest quality Bordeaux-style blends yet. With the shortened season (4 weeks versus the usual six weeks), the advantages actually far exceeded the disadvantages…
It was truly fascinating to see each variety staying true to its unique flavour and identity, even after experiencing somewhat challenging fluctuations in the season’s weather conditions. The varying, cooler temperatures endured during the season led to a slightly delayed budding process, which influenced the growth speed of some of our vines, as well as the development of the flowers during the flowering stages of the vineyards. That being said, the lower summer temperatures on the other hand, were absolutely perfect and ultimately gave way for the spectacular richness and colour development embodied in the 2019 berries.
During the harvesting period, the fine tuning of the bunches was and always will be an essential part of the work in the vineyards. Here, our viticulture team ensured the removal of the weaker, inferior bunches to ensure only the finest bunches and ultimately the finest berries, made its way into the cellar. Still feeling some effect of the three-year drought experienced in the Western Cape province of South Africa, the 2019 vintage delivered a slightly smaller crop, mainly due to the smaller berries. The concentration of the finished wine is complemented by an even more aromatic component than before, originating from this cooler vintage which expressed the cultivar characters even better than the preceding vintages. This also allowed to gain a large and diverse spectrum of flavours, body and natural tannins within the same variety, all thanks to the marvellous season of 2019. A wine blending DREAM!
During mid-December 2018 until the end of January 2019, our winemaking team was still expecting the season to start off quite early. The Shiraz grapes from the Swartland, grown for our superb The Black Lion wine, grew as expected, reaching the desired sugar levels and phenolic ripeness for this wine. Shortly after, the Merlot component, dominating our renowned Bordeaux-style blend, De Toren Z followed, also ripening as expected in comparison to the previous years (2017 & 2018).
Below we share an overview of each individual cultivar during the harvest of 2019:
On the 19th of February 2019, the very first Shiraz grapes were harvested from our Swartland vineyard. These grapes, which form part of our ultra-luxurious The Black Lion wine, perfectly matured as expected, adding the power of darker fruit and silkier tannins to the wine. Whereas, the Shiraz grapes harvested from our Stellenbosch vineyards contributed to the immense volume and body of this 100% Shiraz blend. These same berries also supplemented the wine with a bit more robust tannins and a slightly fresher component.
Next to follow was the harvesting of the Merlots. These grapes acquired phenolic ripeness slowly but surely. The extended ripening period led to the development of more elegant tannins with darker fruit adding a bit more complexity to the wine. It is ideal to have a few lots of Merlot which differ in such a way, as it enhances and fill the other Merlots bouquet. This year we all had one comment when first tasting the berries and the fermented wine from the Merlots. Just “Wow!”
Our Cabernet Franc grapes were one of the most expressive varieties this season – strikingly aromatic with the typical herbaceous character being highly prominent. This cultivar maintains an excellent freshness and crisp acidity, which will allow for the wine to age gracefully and add elegance to the final vintage blends.
Our 2019 vintage Malbec is very sophisticated and clean with mineral notes being boosted by a lingering mouthfeel. This varietal is quite shy at the moment, but that is perfectly normal at this time in its development. The Malbec also ensures for the surprising factor, during every vintage… So, watch this space!
It is easy to see why Stellenbosch is so well known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and why ‘Cab is King’ in the Stellenbosch winelands. The versatility of this grape is infinite. We have at least five different styles of this same cultivar, each securing its appropriate place in the final blending phase. This ranges from becoming the backbone of the blend right through to the base of our De Toren Fusion V 2019 vintage blend. All the whilst adding subtleness, elegance and finesse.
Petit meaning ‘little’ definitely describes our 2019 Petit Verdot grapes. A small amount of this varietal’s bunches was left on the vine to mature even further. This finally led to immensely prominent cultivar characteristics and structured tannins, which will most definitely be used in cautious amounts after an extended period of barrel maturation.
All in all, this was a spectacular harvest and a great success. Despite some of the challenges we foresaw, our meticulous pre-season and harvest planning, alongside the team’s incredible dedication, helped us a great deal in overcoming every and any obstacle – with more ease than ever envisioned. The season of 2019 was most definitely a highlight for the team, as this marked our third and final year (season & harvest) of our organic conversion period. If all goes according to plan, our organic conversion will be completed by the end of 2019, qualifying De Toren as a certified organic wine estate.
We look forward to sharing this noteworthy 2019 vintage with you in about three years to come!