Exclusive Interview with Top Dutch Sommelier, Lukas Wiegman...

Published: 27/06/2019
Author: Mariette van Tonder, Marketing Executive

Exclusive Interview with Top Dutch Sommelier, Lukas Wiegman...

Published: 27/06/2019
Author: Mariette van Tonder, Marketing Executive

We chat to Lukas Wiegman, a top Dutch sommelier, who is very familiar with De Toren, especially after having spent the recent 2019 harvest with us on the estate, as part of our annual harvest team. The former sommelier of FG Restaurant, a Michelin two-star restaurant situated in Rotterdam, tells us a bit more about his world wine journey.

Who is Lukas Wiegman?


A 26-year-old, Dutchman who fell deeply in love with wine, a mere three years ago.

Where did your love affair with wine began and progress?


My first encounter with the world of wine was whilst attending a hotel school, The Hague. I did a minor course in wine there, in addition to my Bachelor in Business Administration. Not taking this course too seriously at the time, it did however end up sparking some sort of interest, which ultimately amplified itself at the restaurant where I was working during my studies. The sommelier of this restaurant started to mentor me through my wine journey and from that point onwards, it really kicked off.

Becoming a sommelier doesn't just happen and especially not just overnight...
What does the training involve and what are the attributes required to become a great sommelier?


I would like to believe that it is a combination of both experience and theoretical knowledge. The absolute best training for a sommelier, in my humble opinion, is to taste, taste and taste. However, I do believe a theoretical framework is necessary to create a holistic understanding of wine. Wine is not just fermented grape juice meant to quench your thirst. It is a combination of history, geography, climate, culture, philosophy, all alongside the meticulous efforts of the winemaking team. All these factors help you understand how to taste, and gives reason and substantiation as to why your pallet experiences the things you taste. So, in order to create that understanding, I firmly believe that one needs to be driven, persistent and consistent.

What have you studied (wine wise)? And tell us a bit more about your experience in the industry so far?


Currently, I am a student at the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET). Once the wine bug bit me, I started buying and tasting a lot of wine, along with reading a lot of books about wine (such as Wine Folly & The Wine Bible).

In July 2017, when I got back from a trip to South America, I decided to fully commit myself to wine. My thinking process at that time was to start at the very beginning, i.e. in the vineyards. Hence, I applied for an internship at Lise et Bertrand Jousset, in Montlouis-sur-Loire, France. Upon my return to the Netherlands I then decided to go for gold and applied for the Sommelier position at FG Restaurant, the two Michelin star restaurant in Rotterdam. I knew they had one of the most extensive wine lists in the whole of Netherlands, which would have provided me with a lot of learning opportunities at the time. During my time there I was very fortunate to have met Charles Williams, the Cellar Master of De Toren. As he came to present a masterclass of De Toren wines, he spoke with a kind of energy and passion for wine which was very captivating, and it immediately triggered my enthusiasm for De Toren's wines. We stayed in touch and eventually, not too long after, I was invited to complete an internship for the 2019 harvest season at De Toren Private Cellar in South Africa.

What is your favourite varietal of wine grape?


As a sommelier, to me this is one of the hardest, yet most frequently asked questions. I believe there is a time and place for every wine (varietal). The key is to find that right moment and place, where the wine shows itself to what it is meant to or intended for.

Do you have any hard and fast tips you can give wine fanatics?


Try to experiment with wine. It is a substantial and very complex subject, but do not be discouraged. Taste consistently, preferably with others to get the discussion going, however never forget to enjoy the wine. A valuable lesson I also learned from a good friend was to never judge a wine negatively. It is easy to instantly pick out the negatives, but try to see what positives the wine has to offer. It changes your perspective; with wine, but also (and more importantly) in life.

In your opinion, what are the 4 things that one should consider when selecting a South African wine?


Wine-wise there's a lot happening in South-Africa. The country boasts all variables necessary to make various styles of wine and that is what the people are seeking to experience right now. You see all these different regions popping up with well-crafted, unique wines.

Additionally, you start to see that winemakers start to take a more inward-looking approach in their winemaking methods and philosophy, creating a unique sense of place (or 'terroir' as we wine geeks like to call it) to be showcased in the wines, losing its 'copy-paste of the Old World wines' kind of approach. I think that's the narrative that winemakers are focusing on, bringing forward their story, to share with people.

So, to come back to the original question, I would select a South African wine based on the understanding of the different regions (history, culture and geographic location) and the style of wine offered.

How did you come to know of De Toren's wines?


The very first time I came to know of De Toren's wines was during my time as Sommelier at FG Restaurant in Rotterdam. We had rather a good selection of De Toren wines on the restaurant wine list.

Which De Toren wine is your favourite & why?


This is a rather tough question. It's like being asked to pick your favourite child as a parent, you just can't. Each De Toren wine has its own attractive characteristics. I have to admit though; I have been blown away by some older vintages of the De Toren Fusion V. What I find incredibly unique about De Toren's wines, is that each wine has great age ability, yet they are already so accessible in their youth. That's not something you see very often with bolder style of wines. All the wines offer superb structure on the palate, whilst being very generous and giving. Ultimately, this makes them perfect for pairing with a lot of different kinds of food.

On that note... what is the perfect meal to pair with this wine and why do you think it works so well?


I would love to pair that aged De Toren Fusion V with a traditional French beef stew, Boeuf Bourguignonne. The voluptuous and velvety structure of the wine would beautifully complement the richness of the stew, while the jammy, plummy hints would bring some balance to those umami and earthy flavours of the dish. That combination of a new world wine versus old world food (so to say) would be really nice to see.

Any wise words to budding sommeliers and aficionados?


Just have fun and do not take it too seriously. Yes, wine is provocative, both emotionally and rationally, and us wine geeks can talk endlessly about phenolic compounds, tannic structures, vintage differences and tertiary aroma development in aged wines. However, do not overdo this - keep it short, simple and sweet. Especially in the restaurant, I want people to drink great wine and enjoy it. If they want to learn something about it, I am more than happy to share my knowledge.

So, where to next for you as esteemed sommelier?


I will be off to Melbourne, Australia to discover the food and wine world there. Melbourne is seen as the culinary heart of Australia and gastronomically there is a lot happening. Currently, I am also in talks with Dinner by Heston Blumenthal to work there as a sommelier. So, fingers crossed!

Lukas, you are a true inspiration to young, aspiring Sommeliers out there and it seems as though you still have big things ahead of you. Thank you for chatting to us and we wish you all the best with your future endeavours. You will be sorely missed by the 2019 Harvest Team of De Toren!

 

Secure a bottle of the very last De Toren Fusion V 2016 vintage here...

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De Toren's 20th Chapter...

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'The truth is in the vine'; just six simple words etched onto the walls of our underground tasting room and vinoteque here at De Toren Private Cellar. And yet they neatly encapsulate our estate's guiding philosophy - an approach that has in little more than 20 years, elevated our boutique...

Exclusive Interview with Top Dutch Sommelier, Lukas Wiegman...

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We chat to Lukas Wiegman, a top Dutch sommelier, who is very familiar with De Toren, especially after having spent the recent 2019 harvest with us on the estate, as part of our annual harvest team. The former sommelier of FG Restaurant, a Michelin two-star restaurant situated in Rotterdam, tells...

A Celebration of De Toren's Exclusive Craftsmanship...

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As we near the mid of the year, one tends to look back and recapitulate the past 6 months. Looking back now, we could not have asked for a better way to end off the first two quarters of 2019! In addition to the spectacular news received about our recent partaking in the first ever 2019...

Bigger, Better, Best When Cellaring Wine...

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Size definitely matters, especially when it comes to the world of wine - bigger often means better. Apart from the fact that it implies 'celebration', there is actual science behind the thought that enjoying wine from a larger wine bottle produces a better taste. But why? We did a bit of digging...

Our Winemaker & Viticulturist's take on the 2019 Harvest...

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The 26 th 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...

The Results of the 2018 Blend Tasting...

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Months of meticulous crafting and duteous tweaking were invested to ensure the best possible 2018 vintage blend for each of our iconic wines, De Toren Z and De Toren Fusion V . This year our annual Blend Tastings, under the respected leadership of our Cellar Master, Charles Williams...

A New Generation of Shareholders Set To Continue The Legacy of Bordeaux-Style Masters De Toren

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De Toren Private Cellar, boutique Stellenbosch wine producer, is pleased to confirm the new majority ownership - one with an ambitious strategic vision. The deal that was agreed on will see this acclaimed wine producer being injected with newfound passion and energy. Following Founder, Emil...

Winemaker Charles on the 2019 Vintage...

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The story of the 2019 vintage commenced much earlier than one would expect. To be precise, it started merely one month after the 2018 vintage found itself snug in the cellar. The month of April 2018 brought some much needed rain and our soils soaked up every inch of this life-giving...

The Release of a Spectacular Vintage...

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The renowned Book XVII was a logical evolution of De Toren's acclaimed Bordeaux blends, an expression of meticulous winemaking and extreme viticulture. This silky-smooth yet powerful blend, is often compared to the famed 'super-Tuscans' of the world. Previously hailed as South...

The Results of the 2019 Cape Wine Auction...

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On the very first two days of March 2019, both local and international wine enthusiasts, top businessmen, entrepreneurs and well-known socialites gathered to raise funds for a remarkably good cause. This elite gathering is better known as The Cape Wine Auction and is internationally...

2016 Vintage Awarded with Stellar Ratings...

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We could not have asked for a better way to kick-start 2019 than with some stellar reviews! Following the release of the 39th edition of the Platter's Wine Guide , we are thrilled to announce that our iconic De Toren Z and renowned De Toren Fusion V were most recently awarded with...

Get to know the Formidable Taryn Nortje...

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One of South Africa's most exciting sommeliers, Taryn Nortjé, from the esteemed Pretoria-based, Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient Hotel, chats to us about all things wine. Well recognized as one of South Africa's top sommeliers today, Taryn shares her journey into the world of wine with us....

The Core of Our Winemaking Philosophy...

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Cultivating Quality in Everything We Do. An objective that has guided De Toren from the outset. From pioneering cellar techniques to redefining the boundaries of extreme viticulture, the wines of De Toren Private Cellar are marked by devotion to quality, and ensuring the truth of the vine is...

Stellar Annual Reviews to Celebrate the Year-end at De Toren...

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Earlier this year we received the spectacular news of being awarded the honourary Certificate of Excellence by the respected South African Wine Index (SAWI) . In addition to that, we are remarkably proud of the exceptional accolades our range boasted with this year. In the spirit of...

Exclusive Interview with SA Master of Wine, Greg Sherwood...

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In this interview we chat to Greg Sherwood, eminent London-based South African Master of Wine and Senior Fine Wine Buyer for Handford Wines. Best known for his wealth of knowledge and experience in the industry, Greg shares more about himself, his journey and the beautiful world of wine....

De Toren Wines Available Around the World for Your enjoyment...

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In every quarterly newsletter we share with you the latest news from De Toren, the newest updates, as well as photos of restaurants and sommeliers around the world. So, by now you might know that De Toren is available around the globe, but the question is, where and how do you gain access to it...

The Phenomenal De Toren Z 2016 Vintage has arrived...

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Inspired by the world-renowned wines of the famed 'Right Bank' of Bordeaux's Garonne River, the vision of De Toren Z originated, followed by the maiden vintage release in 2004. The exact same quality, precision and winemaking philosophy that De Toren is so well known for, would be used to...

Winemaker Charles Reviews a Year of Organic Farming...

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The year 2018 draws to a close, officially marking the finale of De Toren's second year of the required three-year organic conversion period. In light of this, we review another successful year of organic farming by answering a few of the frequently asked questions... Why the decision for De...

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From the outset De Toren's focus has been on the cultivars native to Bordeaux, but in 2008 the winemaking team faced a challenge: with no restrictions on viticulture, cellar practice or costs, and with the singular goal of quality, how would they craft the best wine in the world to help establish...

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The soon-to-be, premiere release of yet another exceptional vintage of the De Toren Fusion V is almost here! The long-awaited 2016 vintage of this iconic, Cabernet Sauvignon dominated Bordeaux-style blend is the perfect reflection of the outstanding grapes harvested during this particular...

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In this interview, we chat to Mike Buthelezi, Sommelier of Sandton's esteemed Epicure Restaurant, well recognized as one of South Africa's top culinary experiences. Having had the opportunity to work in various dimensions of SA's hospitality industry and regarded as one of SA's leading...

Introducing De Toren Délicate in its Stunning New Packaging...

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In South Africa, the month of September is synonymous with Spring and everything this season symbolises, including new beginnings... And speaking of which, we are delighted to officially announce the brand new and striking new packaging of our famed De Toren Délicate! This...

No One Glass to Rule Them All...

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There is nothing better than being served (a great) wine in a great glass - it truly gladdens the heart of a wine enthusiast! A top wine is obviously fantastic in any glass of any shape or size, no one is disputing that, but isn't it just all the more enjoyable when served in the perfect...

Winemaker Charles on Aspiring Towards a Sustainable Future...

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"We have not inherited the earth from our fathers. We have borrowed it from our children." -Lester R. Brown, American Environmental Analyst- Most recently, I came across this very striking quote which resonated quite strongly with me. To be honest, I could not have phrased it any better...

De Toren's Art of Craft Through the Eyes of Our Valued Clients...

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De Toren's wine crafting roadmap is clear and precise. In addition to producing perfectly balanced & complex wines of only the highest quality, our number one objective will always remain the enjoyment of our wines by our valued clients. Our true north. Exclusive Craftsmanship is at the...

SAWI 2018: De Toren Wines Amongst South Africa's Finest...

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We were delighted to recently receive superb news from the respected South African Wine Index (SAWI) , following the publication of their annual list of South Africa's top performing wines. Established in 2009, as an independent body, with the aim of identifying South Africa's finest wines,...

We Share Our Take on the Ongoing Cork Versus Cap Debate...

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Since the very first introduction of screw caps, the much debated cork vs cap subject has been one of much controversy in the wine industry and a hot topic amongst wine lovers too. Though both methods have its pros & cons (as needed for any good debate, otherwise there wouldn't be one in the...

The Official Release of the Opulent Book XVII 2016 Vintage...

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The exclusive Book XVII was born from a desire to craft the greatest wine in South Africa, and in order to do so, not a single one of the vast expenses or efforts could be spared. This philosophy and approach is what secured Book XVII 2015 the honourable title as Wine Enthusiast's...

The Final 2017 Vintage Blend Tasting Results are Announced...

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The month of June marked the final De Toren Blend Tastings of the phenomenal and already renowned 2017 vintage . These De Toren Z 2017 and De Toren Fusion V 2017 vintage blend tastings were preceded by months of meticulous crafting and conscientious tweaking to ensure the best...

Exclusive Interview with Top Netherlands Sommelier, Ronald Opten...

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We chat to the Master Sommelier of the luxurious Amstel Hotel's La Rive Restaurant, well recognised as one of Netherland's top culinary experiences. Best known for his wealth of experience and regarded as a leading Maitre d'-Sommelier, Ronald shares his story with us... Before you relocated...

Winemaker Charles, Reminisces Over the Recent 2018 Harvest

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Monday, 9 April marks the official closing of the 2018 harvest here at De Toren Private Cellar. This season was once again a marvellous opportunity to observe how complex Mother Nature is in all her workings. In many senses the vintage challenged our understanding of how multifaceted the...

Exclusive Interview with Top SA Sommelier, Lloyd Jusa...

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In this interview, we chat to Lloyd Jusa, Head Sommelier of Johannesburg’s luxurious Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa, well recognized as one of South Africa’s top hospitality and culinary experiences. Best known for his wealth of knowledge and regarded as one of SA’s leading...

The Superb 2018 Cape Wine Auction Lot Results...

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Wine aficionados, leading businessmen, distinguished entrepreneurs and well-known celebrities and socialites from around the globe gathered on Saturday, 10 February 2018 to raise funds for a good cause. The Cape Wine Auction is internationally regarded one of the most prestigious events on the...

SA's Highest Rated Wine & More Stellar Reviews...

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After the spectacular news at the end of last year, about our ‘New World Winery of the Year’ nomination by Wine Enthusiast , for the second time since 2011, we really didn’t think 2018 could top 2017… But boy, were we wrong! The year 2018 started off on an...

Official Release: The Reputable De Toren Z 2015 Vintage

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Finally it all comes together - the meticulous planning, the exceptionally hard work and the wonderful aromas of an exceptional vintage that ignites all the senses when filling the glass. We have eagerly awaited the reveal of this phenomenal, already award-winning wine , De Toren Z 2015 ....

Winemaker Charles's 2018 Vintage Update

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With recent years’ exceptional vintages behind us, we prepared ourselves for an interesting 2018 vintage. During the course of this season, I was so thankful for the way we do and have been doing things here at De Toren. Always thinking ahead, planning the necessary strategy to its finest...

New Year, New Beginnings...

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The year 2017 marks the very first year of De Toren Private Cellar’s three year organic conversion period. For a few years already, we have been hard at work behind the scenes, with immense amounts of research. All in preparation for the commencement of this new methodology to ensure a...

The Cape Wine Auction 2018 - A Lot of Leisure & Luxury

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It is almost time for the prestigious 2018 The Cape Wine Auction - an elite gathering regarded as one of the most extraordinary wine events internationally. De Toren Private Cellar has joined forces with the award-winning Tintswalo Hotel Group to offer an absolutely magnificent lot in aid of...

Stellar Reviews to Celebrate the Year-End

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With 2017 drawing to a close, we could not have asked for a better way to end off the year! In addition to the spectacular news about our recent ‘New World Winery of the Year’ nomination by Wine Enthusiast, our ultra-luxurious Book XVII as well as our iconic De Toren Z and De...

SA's Best Young Sommelier, Wikus Human

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In this interview, we chat to Wikus Human, the Head Sommelier of Marble Restaurant, situated in the heart of Johannesburg, well recognized as one of South Africa’s top restaurants. Best known for his recent achievement as winner of the South Africa’s Best young Sommelier’...

The Art of Decanting

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The season of festive celebrations, blissful parties, extravagant lunches and jovial dinners is upon us, and what better way to spoil yourself and your guests with the ultimate culinary feast and a beautiful array of wines, decanted of course… We know all too well that during the silly...

Winemaker Charles on De Toren's Drought Strategy

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The year 2017 marks the third consecutive winter that the Western Cape of South Africa has had below average rainfall. Even though De Toren, as a producer of top quality wines, uses significantly less water compared to more commercial wineries, the effect of this drought is long term and the only...

The 5th vintage release of The Black Lion Shiraz

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A wine born from the desire to create the most powerful, yet elegant Shiraz in South Africa. A wine inspired by the world’s finest, most extreme wine growing and winemaking techniques. Crafted from the ancient soils of Africa - that wine is The Black Lion Shiraz. The newly released...

Hot Off The Press

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This month we were honoured to receive superb news from the esteemed and highly reputable USA publisher, Wine Enthusiast Magazine. The craftsmanship invested in each and every step of our winemaking process has truly been rewarded by this most recent nomination. The editors of Wine Enthusiast...

The 2016 Vintage Blend Tasting Results Announced

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Months of meticulous crafting and duteous tweaking were invested in the potential 2016 vintage blends of the renowned De Toren Fusion V and De Toren Z Bordeaux-style wines. The concluding results of these blends, following three rounds of blend tastings, are finally announced…...

The De Toren collection through the eyes of our clients

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The philosophy of De Toren has always been to produce perfectly balanced and complex wines of the highest quality for our client’s sheer enjoyment. This article is a celebration of appreciation of our wine collection and we thought it well to share the thoughts of our valued clients, as...

Assistant Winemaker Martin, shares the importance of barrel work in the cellar

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To understand the method of ageing wine in barrels, it is important to comprehend the work and science that goes into the selection and preparation of wine barrels before they are filled with wine. This includes the crucial behind the scenes work that goes on in the cellar to make this all...

Exclusive interview with top Dutch sommelier, Koen van der Plas

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In this interview we chat to top Dutch sommelier, Koen van der Plas, better known as the head sommelier of Inter Scaldes, a two star Michelin restaurant in the Netherlands. In this article, Koen shares his passion for travelling, South African wines, exceptional food and wine pairings and his...

South Africa's 2015 vintage of magnitude

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It is beyond any doubt that South Africa yielded a particularly reputable 2015 harvest. The 2015 vintage hails one of the most sensational, if not the greatest vintages yet. A vintage with a reputation that precedes it, destined to deliver some of the most exceptional wines yet. The wines from...

Winemaker Charles, on the protection of our biggest asset

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At De Toren Private Cellar, we pride ourselves on meticulous attention to detail, every step of the way. In this article, Charles shares his approach to protecting the integrity of the vineyards to ensure its long-term sustainability, quality and style of wine. As producers of premium and...



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