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

Published: 13/06/2018
Author: Mariette van Tonder, Marketing

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

Published: 13/06/2018
Author: Mariette van Tonder, Marketing

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 to Amsterdam in 2008, you worked for seven years as the Master Sommelier at Restaurant De Vrienden van Jacob, situated on the breathtakingly beautiful Duin & Kruidberg Country Estate in the North of Netherlands. A lot of career highlights preceded the year 2008, what did these entail and mean for your career?


In the year 2007, I graduated and was honoured with the title of 'SVH Wijnmeester' - the highest degree of professional competence someone in the hospitality industry can achieve. That same year I was proclaimed as 'Sommelier of the Year by Gault Millau'. It was very humbling and it felt greatly rewarding to receive acknowledgement for the work I had done setting up Restaurant De Vrienden van Jacob, as well as crafting my vison and philosophy on the wine program.

Career wise, this resulted in a wonderful opportunity, which also left me with a rather challenging decision to make in 2008... I was asked to join the Amstel Hotel and I knew I had to leave behind what I had created at the Duin & Kruidberg Estate.

La Rive Restaurant, which is part of the Amstel Hotel in Amsterdam, is regarded one of the Netherland's leading gastronomic experiences, consistently receiving worldwide acclaim. Tell us a bit more about your responsibility and role as Maitre d'-Sommelier (Master of Sommelier) at this prestigious restaurant, which is positioned amongst the top in the world?


As Maitre d'-Sommelier, I am responsible for the complete wine program at the Amstel Hotel. I have two great Sommeliers as part of my team, Ted Bunnik and Hans van Schaik, whom helps me a great deal with building, maintaining and nurturing our spectacular wine collection.

Sommelier, Ted Bunnik has been at the Amstel Hotel since 1980 and has been collecting prestigious wines ever since. He created the corner stone of the fantastic vintage depth collection on our wine list. For my wine pairing program, I always look at the seasonal changes to Chef Roger Rassin's menu. With this in mind, I try to find pearls from all over the world to pair and enhance these culinary flavours.

You have understandably developed a passion for wine and fine wine over the past couple of years... In the global wine industry, what do you find most exciting?


Wine is a never-ending journey and I love the various interpretations by the different winemakers based on influencing elements such as the ever-changing climate. The decisions made based on these factors, help craft their unique signature, which is reflected in their wine.

What does it feel like being regarded as one of Netherland's most admired sommeliers today?


I feel flattered by this and try to use this opportunity or platform to show the future sommelier generation the beauty of our craft. I aspire towards passing on this knowledge and passion of mine, to carry on this great craftsmanship for years and years to come.

When you dine out, what do you look for on a wine list of a restaurant? What makes a wine fine?


I always look for older vintages of wines that I have actually tasted before to experience the wine's evolution over time. For me, it's intriguing to see how a wine evolves over time and what this does for its aroma and taste profile.

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


My first encounter with De Toren dates back to 2009. I attended a blind tasting where we were presented with the opportunity to taste older Bordeaux-style wines from all over the world. De Toren Fusion V 2001 vintage was included in this tasting and I was pleasantly delighted by this wine. This encounter then triggered my interest to learn more about De Toren and its philosophy, especially since this was only the 3rd vintage release.

We are honoured to have our wines listed as part of La Rive Restaurant's prestigious collection. Do you have a firm favourite amongst our wines & if so, what dish from your restaurant would make for the ideal pairing?


Currently, the De Toren Z 2014 is my favourite - for its opulence of fruit, showcase of aromas, such as blueberry and raspberry and its liquorice hues. The palate is soft and exudes well integrated tannins with abundance of fruit and hints of earth, mocha, vanilla, which ends off with a silky finish. This combination goes extremely well with our famous Bison Steak. The steak is roasted on a barbeque and served with Chevril root, Chanterelle mushrooms, a crisp of Boletus mushroom, the jus of Bison with a hint of Arabica coffee beans. The De Toren Z integrates superbly with this meal - it picks up on the earthiness of the mushroom and the subtle coffee aromas show the wine's abundance of fruit, perfectly complementing the roasted meat.

Looking back, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?


One is never done learning in the fascinating world of wine. Go out and explore the wine regions of the world.

Considering all your noteworthy achievements, it seems your career is going from strength to strength. So where to from here for the famed Ronald Opten?


The Amstel Hotel has just been restored to its former glory and is ready for a new era. I would like to remain here, providing wine selection and culinary direction and continue teaching the younger generation about our craftsmanship.

A true inspiration to young, aspiring sommeliers out there... Ronald, thank you for chatting to us and we wish you all the best with this next phase in your career!

Read Winemaker, Charles's 2018 Harvest Report here...

Click here to secure a case of our iconic Bordeaux-style blend, De Toren Z...

A Peek Into The Phenomenal De Toren Fusion V 2016 Vintage Release...

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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...

We get to know Mike Buthelezi, Top SA Sommelier...

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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...

Pretoria, the first to taste the potential De Toren Z 2016 blends...

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A firm favourite for more than 20 years, situated in the heart of Pretoria, the newly opened Forti Grill & Bar was an absolute must for our first, annual De Toren Z Blend Tasting. The travel across Johannesburg to Pretoria, was well worth it, as the 9 blends on tasting was each...

A phenomenal venue & the 1st De Toren Fusion V 2016 Blend Tasting

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The Silo, a magical space towering above the V&A Waterfront with a 360˚ degree view! Surrounded by the natural wonder of South Africa’s Mother City, we hosted the very first De Toren Fusion V 2016 Vintage Blend Tasting at the spectacular Silo Hotel. It was an outstanding day,...

Panoramic views for the 2nd De Toren Fusion V 2016 Blend Tasting

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A day of appreciating the picturesque view and the signature experience of tapas for two at the renowned Chef’s Warehouse at Beau Constantia was an absolute delight. This, together with the enjoyment of an incredible selection of older De Toren Fusion V vintages, most definitely made...

De Toren Z 2016 Vintage Blend Tasting in the heart of the historic St James in London

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A private members’ club like no other, founded by wine lovers, for wine lovers. A home for the finest wines in the world, including the De Toren wines . It was only fitting to host the De Toren Z 2016 Blend Tastings here, in the classically elegant Lutyens Room, a private dining...

Available For Your Enjoyment Around The World

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In every quarterly newsletter we share stories and photos of restaurants and sommeliers from around the world with you. By now you might know that De Toren is available around the globe, but the question is, where exactly and how do you gain access to it. We thought it best to give you as much of...

De Toren's Exclusive Craftsmanship Awarded in Recent Reviews

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De Toren has always believed in making wine for the enjoyment and appreciation thereof, especially for the pleasure of our valued clients. Our aim is thus to always to stay true to our philosophy of Exclusive Craftsmanship, in everything we do; from the work we do in our vineyards right through...

Winemaker, Charles, reminisces over the recent 2017 harvest

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As I am writing this 2017 harvest report, my assistant winemaker, Martin, is gently pressing the very last vessel of our Petit Verdot. Harvest 2017 is officially concluded! I always find myself somewhat reminiscent on days like these, emotions similar to enjoying a great glass of wine with best...

Cellar Master, Albie, on the exceptional ageing of Bordeaux blends...

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Not only is this one of the most frequently asked questions we get in the tasting room or via social media platforms, but this is also one of the top 10 most frequently asked questions about wine, according to Google… In this article, our Cellar Master, Albie Koch, better known to most as...

Exclusive interview with Top South African Sommelier, Tinashe Nyamudoka...

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Better known as The Wine Whisperer ,  one of South Africa’s finest sommeliers and sommelier for the top South African restaurant, the Test Kitchen … Tinashe Nyamudoka, chats to De Toren about where his career started, his absolute favourite things about his job and what the...

De Toren raises R800 000 for charity

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An annual highlight on the social calendar, an event regarded as one of the most extraordinary wine events internationally, an astounding celebration of South African wines - The Cape Wine Auction 2017 was all that and so much more... This is an annual event where the elite, from around the...

Winemaker, Charles Williams, on the 2017 vintage...

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The past few years have delivered exceptional vintages, leaving one hopefully wondering, if, with the right planning, experience and expertise, the next one can exceed the results of the preceding vintages. The vintage of 2017 commenced with the successful and gradual bud breaking during...

Belgium Sommelier, Luk de Rooze, on where it all started...

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During his most recent trip to South Africa, we were fortunate enough meet with Luk de Rooze, the youngest sommelier to ever be bestowed the honorary title as 'Belgium's Best Sommelier', at De Toren. In this interview, he shares his passion for fine wine, especially South African wine, with us....

The 2015 vintage of South Africa's Top Luxury Wine, Book XVII

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When real dedication, skill and immense knowledge meet meticulous attention to detail and intense passion, the outcome is bound to be remarkable. The renowned Book XVII is the result of our winemaking team's continuous quest for perfection and the extraordinary, soon-to-be-launched 2015 vintage...

Balance, complexity, elegance and structure - what does it all mean?

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The world of wine is easily cluttered with lingo and terminology that complicates, confuse and distracts from the wine itself. Words such as balance, complexity, structure and elegance are commonly used, without further explanation or consideration. We are frequently asked about the use of these...

One of Brugge's hidden treasures...

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A trip to Brugges in Belgium simply requires a visit to the famous wine shop and wine bar, Blend , partly owned by sommelier Luk de Rooze ( read more here on our interview with Luk ). The concept behind Blend , is to give the people of Belgium and the tourists of course, the...

An infectious passion for people, food and wine...

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Another must-see in Belgium is Brasserie Grand Cru , a restaurant that shows true passion for wine and exciting culinary creations to accompany the great selection of fine wines. This is evident in the spectacular menu and wine list, offering a variety tailored to each and every occasion or...

At home with Belgium's wine master...

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The last stop of our winemaker, Charles's European trip was a fantastic day at Hans Fonck's wine shop, named Het Huis van De Wijnmeester . Hans is known as the wine master in Belgium and is a proud ambassador of South African wines, including the De Toren wine range . His wine shop is...

A Zambian piece of paradise...

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Planning that next holiday? What better place to consider than one of Zambia's most luxurious lodges? The Royal Chundu , winner of the 'World Travel Awards' for 6 consecutive years, a mere 30 kilometres from the magnificent Victoria Falls, definitely deserves a place on that bucket list....

A summary of the annual ratings

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As we near the end of a great year and prepare for a new one with fantastic prospects, one tends to look back and recapitulate the past 365 days and evaluate not-so-good and more importantly the good. For De Toren, those highlights certainly include the appreciation of our wines by our valued...



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