In Vino Veritas: De Toren’s Book XVII 2021 Is A Tribute To Ancient Viticultural Wisdom


Regarded as one of the finest Bordeaux-style wines to emerge from South Africa, De Toren Private Cellar’s Book XVII wine is the perfect blend of craftsmanship and nature — and the latest vintage from 2021 is no exception.

The limited-edition wine, which is now available for pre-release reservations, was inspired by ancient Roman Philosopher, Pliny the Elder. Purported to be the first ‘wine critic’, Pliny, a naturalist, philosopher and commander of the early Roman Empire, wrote extensively about winemaking and viticulture in Book XVII of his massive encyclopaedic work The Natural History, giving us much of what we know today about ancient wine.

On the cover of the original Book XVII was a Roman eagle, a symbol of imperial power representing courage, strength and immortality. As an homage to the 2 000-year-old compendium of winemaking, De Toren chose this mighty raptor to command its Book XVII label. American illustrator Steven Noble created a majestic portrait of an eagle using a labour-intensive engraving technique, adding intricate narratives within the larger image that reflect the story of the Book XVII red blend and its inspiration. The result is a label that beautifully captures the intense attention to detail given to every step of De Toren’s winemaking process.

Book XVII 2021 is the fruit of twenty years of exhaustive recording and analysis by De Toren of countless vineyard variables, from soil composition and weather conditions to oceanographic influences. A fitting tribute to viticultural wisdom both ancient and modern, this Bordeaux-style wine reflects Pliny’s own dedication to researching viticultural practices.

For the 2021 vintage of this Bordeaux blend crafted from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec, a cold, wet winter was experienced with low temperatures during the ripening season, along with some rain during harvest which caused the preserving of aromatics as well as acidity, contributing to the wine’s expressiveness. Harvesting at perfect phenolic ripeness resulted in optimum tannin structure and fruit purity.

At first glance, the wine has a bright red rim that becomes ruby hued at the center. One is greeted with intense aromas of red cherry and raspberry, followed by blackberry and cassis with hints of mulberry and sweet tobacco. The palate is complemented by the richness and density on the tongue. This wine has a fine, firm tannin structure with acidity that adds to its complexity. De Toren’s Book XVII has previously been voted South Africa’s best luxury wine and the country’s highest-rated wine ever by the esteemed Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Exclusive début reservations of the of Book XVII are now available to the honorary members of De Toren’s premier community.

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