DU TOITSKLOOF WINES compiled by Lizar van Reenen
Often we hear the Jo’burg crowd mention (or mumble) that Capetonians drink too much. We think they are simply jealous as we are the ones that have been truly blessed with the nectars of the gods. Surrounded by wine farms that is renowned for their superb cultivars…worldwide. The sad twist is that we, together with a few of our friends, have noticed the drop in quality, especially in the past year. Thus began the search about two months ago…to find a well priced palatable white wine offering decent to good quality…under 50 bucks (the reds we’ll reserve for winter). “You’ll never find anything under 50 bucks”. This is what we kept hearing from very many a wine drinker as most of them purchased wine based on the price. Yes, it is quite normal to assume that by spending more, you’ll be getting a better or consistent quality of wine as in the past yet pricing is becoming relative these days . We, however had an urge to sample wines and of course a perfect excuse to indulge even more.
We found our gem at a place called the Du Kloof lodge situated just after the Huguenot Tunnel between Paarl and Rawsonville thanks to an invite by Erika’s sister, Laurenda. The initial reason for going had something to do with a “secret” picnic rock in the middle of the river that was so kick-ass cool.
On arrival, we sussed out the place and anxiously questioned, “Where’s the river?”. “And where’s the stupid “secret” rock?”. Laurenda just laughed and said, “Follow me”. Alas…within clear view…the enormous famous, flat picnic rock in the middle of the Du Toitskloof river. Did I mention the part about it being in the middle of the river? With our picnic baskets and camera gear above our heads, we made it through the river after much struggle as the current was exceptionally strong and the rocks, extremely slippery. Once on the rock, we just lazily lounged there, listening to the range of acoustics created by the water. It was absolutely breathtaking being surrounded by the magnificent colossal Du Toit’s Kloof mountains and unbelievably peaceful. And then…the moment was gone. Laurenda suddenly jumped up screaming…”Oh yeah! They’ve arrived”. Huh, who else was invited to this “private rock party”. “This is our rock!!!” Apparently this invite was extended to every other person by Laurenda’s friend Jill who does regular Facebook invites to random places. It is her way of putting face to the Facebook friend. Cool…real old school style we thought.
On introduction, the Facebook clan seemed pretty chilled, until we realised that they were all born in the eighties. Some even the early eighties. What the fuck! What were we going to talk to them about. Justin Bieber hairstyles? Lady Gaga outfits? Apps and google shit? We needed a drink!!! It being a Sunday was a daunting thought. Where on earth were we going to find a drink? Panic set in. We saw Laurenda hysterically laughing while trying to utter the words “something to wine about” repeatedly. What was she on about? To us, she was not funny at all. Eventually, she explained that it was the name of the wine shop at the Du Kloof lodge. Happiness meant struggling through the river again, but it was for the cause…a good cause. And this, my dear readers…was when we made the discovery of the Du Toitskloof wines.
A few bottles of Du Toitskloof Sparkling Brut was the order of the day. “Champagne for everybody” as Bubbles Delevere from Little Britain would say. And since we were born in the early 70’s, drinking and sharing from the bottle in the blazing sun was how we rolled – all while frivolously frolicking in and out the water (just don’t swallow as the fresh water trout have sex in it). Characteristically of a typical Brut, it was very dry, yet had refreshing hints of tropical flavours and chardonnay with a slight grassiness. The young born-in-the-80’s crowd wholeheartedly agreed that the light and very crisp Sparkling Brut was an ideal choice for our playful setting. Later that afternoon, we trekked our way from the river toward the allocated braai area. The Sparkling Brut went down superbly with the variety of salads (since the meat was more than just slightly burnt). This glorious day eventually had to come to an end yet it felt as if we were away for an entire weekend.
Two weeks later we returned to sample the Du Toitskloof Chenin and Sauvignon Blanc. Back on the same gigantic flat rock, we opened the Chenin Blanc which was ideal for what we had in mind…chilling, chatting and doing absolutely nothing in particular. The Sauvignon Blanc we reserved for our braai a bit later. It was a superb choice with our chicken and pork braai. We did however find that it wasn’t the type of wine we would enjoy drinking on its’ own (especially after a braai) as it was rather rich. On a full stomach – not a very pleasant drinking experience. We switched back to the Chenin Blanc which was more suited to our needs at the time. Sipping and plenty chatting. Both of these wines we purchased at a mere R35 each at the wine shop at Du Kloof lodge. SCORE!!!!
We were ready for the opinions of the non-believers. Thus we brought the experiment back home. We needed to source the same wine at our local liquor stores to compare prices. Low and behold, it was still under 40 bucks. We ensured that it was a beautiful late “summer’s afternoon” for our wine experiment. The wine, chilled to perfection. We had the presence of an astute red wine drinker, a craft beer yuppie, a person of sober habits (boring), a cocktail lover (boring), a person with an “appreciation” for any liquor offered (cheapskate) and a discerning white wine drinker.
We started with the Sauvignon Blanc 2013. The taste experience was that of slightly sweet, yet the finish, almost tingly on the back of the tongue. No-one detected any flavours of pear, litchi or gooseberry which was the signature flavours of this particular Sauvignon Blanc. I asked which colours they envisioned with the initial bouquet. Avo green or some green vegetable was the general response. That would be the hint of asparagus they smelled which triggered the colour green. They liked the taste of the Sauvignon Blanc for the price, but it did not leave a WOW factor.
Next up, the Chenin Blanc 2013. Everyone was more than in favour with this particular find. And especially impressed with the price. Although everyone’s preference in wine or alcoholic beverages were different, all surprisingly experienced the same taste sensations. The initial bouquet was that of bursting tropical fruit, yet all instinctively mentioned one fruit in particular…apple. No other fruit came to mind. Asking what colour they envisioned when tasting the wine, they simultaneously answered…light yellow. I found this observation very enlightening as the fruits that they couldn’t detect were pear and pineapple (a subconscious connection with the colour yellow in the Chenin Blanc) . For a fruity type wine, no one experienced any acidity . What stood out most to them was the absolute crispness in the mouth. The consensus overwhelming, all agreeing that the Chenin Blanc was definitely great for when one spontaneously felt like having a glass of wine or to take to a party when unsure about the crowd.
Trying to locate well priced white wines for under R50 was humungous fun. We discovered wines on the market ranging from really shitty to remarkably good. Neither of us musketeers are wine connoisseurs. Neither, are very many of our friends. We just love wine. By no means are we proclaiming that well known brands or expensive wines are kak. We are merely suggesting that one should enjoy the taste experience of a wine regardless of the price or label. To us, happiness comes in a bottle. Greater happiness, when quality wine is offered at a good price. Next time Cape Town weather throws you a curve ball and it feels like summer all over again for just one day, go to the liquor store with an open mind. Lower your price bracket and get a bottle (or two) of Du Toitskloof 2013 Chenin Blanc. Take a risk. You might just find that you like it.