Stellenbosch-based De Toren Private Cellar has launched what is undoubtedly one of South Af-rica’s most masterful 100% Malbec wines, nobly named De Toren Patronus. A word of ancient Latin origin, Patronus means “protector” and this careful choice of nomenclature alerts us to the wine’s added dimension in the realm of wildlife protection.
Readers of the famed Harry Potter series will no doubt have popular culture recall of the term Patronus. This was used in the books to describe a magically summoned form of protection against harm and was symbolized by an animal. In this instance, De Toren’s out-of-the-ordinary wine deepens awareness of the need to protect one of Africa’s most remarkable creatures.
De Toren Patronus is exceptional as a wine due to its purity. “Malbec is usually used as part of a blend here in South Africa,” explains Winemaker Martin Fourie, “whereas we are attempting to drive the worth of Malbec as a single varietal through fastidious technique and our sheer pas-sion for what we believed a wine like this could be!”
Like other Bordeaux varietals, Malbec is thought to have originated in France, and has since flourished in other parts of the world, particularly Argentina, where Malbec wine is drunk both as a single varietal and in a blend. Malbec’s distinct character is drawn from its large dark purple grapes with robust tannins, making for a similarly dark purple wine. So dark in fact, that it is often dubbed “The Noble Black Wine”.
It has an illustrious past – praised in the poetry of Virgil and the Odes of Horace, Malbec be-came the preferred wine of Renaissance nobility thanks to the intrepid and somewhat inconstant Queen Eleanor who divorced France’s King Louis VII to marry England’s Henry II, all the while keeping Malbec as her declared favourite. Pope John XXII made it the communion wine of choice. A long and colourful history precedes De Toren’s contemporary expression…
The new 100% Malbec is derived from decades-old, sustainably farmed vines. Only hand-harvested grapes at peak maturity are used. Utterly handcrafted, De Toren Patronus not only displays meticulous attention to detail throughout the winemaking journey, but also the synergy of tradition and innovation.
Fourie makes use of fermentation in closed barrels, open oak barrels and smaller open stainless-steel tanks. The wine is then matured in predominantly new French oak barrels. This choice reflects years of experience in emphasizing the intensity of the Malbec while still expressing the necessary freshness and elegance of a single variety. “This results in an aromatic, vibrant, and full-bodied wine with tightly knit tannins and a refined, polished palate,” says Fourie. Each technique highlights De Toren’s purity of expression and the opulence inherent in its winemaking methods.
The winemaking legacy and exceptional quality evident in each sip of De Toren Patronus is echoed in De Toren’s efforts to approach rhinoceros conservation. To honour this majestic and important creature and to tell the story of De Toren Patronus, De Toren commissioned a world-class illustration for the wine label, an image that utilises age-old engraving techniques to effect. The distinctive bottle depicts the Near Threatened white rhino, an ancient and iconic animal with which the wine shares many qualities.
Echoing the determined purity of 100% Malbec, the white rhino is a pure grazer that prefers the shortest grains of grass. The rhino is a driving factor in preserving the ecosystem of the savanna grasslands and has inhabited the African continent for millions of years. The delicate grapes of the Malbec varietal finds its match in this animal’s sensitive nature. Malbec berries are large and carry intense aroma, colour, and flavour, just as the rhino carries its bold and formidable physique with grace.
The choice of this animal displays a desire to preserve our continent’s unique wildlife for future generations, just as the wine itself expresses longevity through its excellent aging possibilities. A classic wine for the collector, it has the potential to be aged for decades to come.
De Toren does more than pay lip service to rhino conservation. “In honour of our African roots, we recently adopted Kimba, a white rhino, one of the species amongst the world’s most threatened,” explains De Toren Brand Manager, Charelle van den Berg. The estate proudly sup-ports all conservation efforts to protect the white rhino from the threats of poaching and cli-mate change affecting its natural habitat.
De Toren’s rendition is the proud product of years of winemaking and one of the finest ultra-premium wines ever to have emerged from South Africa. From the estate’s very first days, the winemakers set out to achieve Bordeaux-style reds that would be ranked among the world’s best. It’s not surprising, then, that De Toren’s unerring appetite for achievement should turn to creating an unmatched Malbec wine. The estate hopes to change the way South Africans view Malbec and raise the standards for this varietal beyond our borders.
The ultra-luxurious wine is presented in a hand-crafted wooden frame with a unique engraved key to unlock its pleasure. De Toren Cellar Master Charles Williams views this ritual of unlocking as the last, small act of labour required to “finish” the wine, thus making the consumer an essential part of the labour-intensive wine-making journey, the epitome of craftsmanship. De Toren’s understanding of luxury encompasses the concept of exceptional effort expended to attain and experience the exceptional.
A classic wine for the collector, it has the potential to be aged for decades to come. Upon tasting it, the wine lover will pick up flavours of plum, ripe cherries and berries that primarily entice the tastebuds with gentle notes of coconut and a carefully judged, oaky frame. A sensation of tart currant leads the wine into a long, fragrant finish with fresh acidity and gentle, chalky tannins. As the proud product of years of winemaking, De Toren Patronus is a wine that embodies both energy and elegance. And like the white rhino itself, it is set to become a global icon…
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