Words: Richard Holmes Images: Supplied

Stuart Botha probably won’t have time to read the papers this Sunday morning. For the winemaker at Tokara, February means harvest, and there’s little time to spare when the grapes are ready for the cellar.

Stuart joined Tokara in 2017, exchanging the Constantia vineyards of Eagle’s Nest for the hilltop views of Tokara on the Helshoogte Pass outside Stellenbosch. This year marks his second harvest at Tokara, and all eyes are on the sauvignon blanc the cellar is famous for.

And he has his work cut out for him, with the cellar producing three expressions of this ever-popular cultivar, with fruit sourced from both Stellenbosch and the cool-climate vineyards of Elgin.

The Tokara Sauvignon Blanc is an approachable, well-priced, blend of these two regions, showing the crisp apple and lemongrass notes of the cooler Elgin vines alongside the vibrant tropical notes of Stellenbosch. It’s a delicious drop, but perhaps more intriguing for a sauvignon fan is the Tokara Reserve Collection Elgin Sauvignon Blanc. Here only fruit from Elgin has been used, with all of the bright acidity you’d expect from these high-lying mountain vineyards.

“There’s an amazing freshness as the wine enters the palate, with clean citrus flavours leading to a creamy mid-palate and a lingering crisp finish. This sauvignon blanc shows remarkable ageability and will evolve with correct cellaring over the next few years,” says Stuart.

For something with a little more weight on the palate, the estate’s flagship white blend – Tokara Director’s Reserve White – is a classic Bordeaux blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon. Picked from specific blocks high on the flanks of the Simonsberg, the juice is fermented in older French oak barrels and aged on the lees for nine months before bottling – a fine reflection of the Tokara terroir.

Stuart is in no hurry to make his own mark on the cellar, rather letting the vineyards speak for themselves. “The wines of Tokara are very expressive of their terroir, and when that’s the case minimal intervention is the best approach. You don’t try and manipulate them too much. When it comes to blending and barrel selection, that’s where the style of the winemaker comes through over time.”

In your hood: Stellenbosch
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