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

Published: 28/02/2017
Author: Martin Fourie, Winemaker
  • dtn-5a
  • dtn-5b

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

Published: 28/02/2017
Author: Martin Fourie, Winemaker

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 words and terms and have chatted to Martin, our assistant winemaker, to help us in answering these questions

Let's start with what you can see...

Once you've poured the wine into a glass, you can tip the glass, holding it by its stem.

What do you see in the colour - is it clear or dull? We, at De Toren, produce Bordeaux-style blends so these wines should be purple and ruby in colour. Wines that are purple and more consistent in colour, are usually younger in age, in other words the wine's colour at the core of your glass versus the wine at the edge of the glass is similar. The opposite could be said for older wines, which are normally a darker red or ruby colour and more inconsistent in colour when comparing the colour in the middle of the glass to the colour at the rim of the glass. Wines that have been aged for many years and are much older, can even show a brown edge in the wine's colour.

The colour of the wine also tells us quite a bit about the cultivar. Certain grape varieties are characteristically darker or lighter in colour. A good example is the Petit Verdot variety - it has a very distinct dark and powerful, deep purple colour, where a Pinot Noir for example would definitely be lighter in colour than the Petit Verdot.

Now let's move on to the smell...

Even before inspecting the bouquet, one will usually swirl the glass. So does this have an impact and what happens during this ritual? Yes, there is a reason for doing so. The main reason is to expose a greater surface area of the wine to air. That is why we always recommend decanting the De Toren wines. The exposure of wine to air releases and opens up the aromas and helps the wine evolve.

What do you smell when you first nose the wine? (Yes, even in wine, first impressions are important!) Which notes do you detect in the wine? Is it fruity, nutty, spicy, floral or woody? These notes can tell you the age of the wine and also allow you to detect the grape varieties. Spicy aromas, (wines where you detect less fruitiness, are usually slightly older vintages, whereas the younger wines tend to smell more of fruit. Some grape varieties also have quite distinct bouquet, for example the cabernet sauvignon of our De Toren Fusion V, is known for the smell of darker berries such as black cherries and blackcurrants, as well as hints of black pepper, liquorice and oak. The merlot, dominating our De Toren Z Bordeaux-style blend, on the other side, is recognizable by the hints of red berries, such as cranberries and raspberries and also a hint of aniseed.

Time to taste!

This is the most important step, to taste of course! Take a sip and swirl it around in your mouth. This gives the wine some time to evolve and also allows all your taste buds to experience the wine.

A wine that is well-balanced won't have any sharp tangs or tastes that significantly stand out above the rest, i.e. the acidity, tannins, alcohol and fruits or sweetness should be in perfect harmony. All these elements should be present in the wine, but in proportion.

The sweetness of a wine is tasted at the tip of your tongue. The sugary taste comes from the sugar in the grapes, left after the fermentation process has been completed.

Acidity is detected on the sides of your tongue. This is naturally present in grapes and helps to balance the sweetness of the wine. A red wine will have less acidity than a white wine.

The tannins in the wine, you will taste at the back of your tongue and it will have a slight bitterness to it. The tannins derive from the skins of the grapes and the oak barrels used during maturation and once again will help to balance the sweetness and acidity in the wine.

The warm sensation at the back of your throat signifies the presence of the alcohol.

Ask yourself the question - are these elements in harmony, with not one overpowering the other? If so, then the wine is very well balanced.

To determine the depth of wine, you need to discover the layers present in the wine - this is what complexity in wines refers to. Perhaps you detect a hint of nuttiness or liquorice or maybe even cedar and spice. These layers of flavours and their level of intensity can help identify the cultivar, e.g. the Cabernet Sauvignon of our De Toren Fusion V has hints of blackcurrants, whereas the Merlot of our De Toren Z has a distinct raspberry flavour.

You can also determine the maturity of a wine through means of tasting it. The older red wines tend to have more presence of savoury, spicy flavours, where younger wines are generally a bit fruitier.

Let's conclude with the finish of the wine...

This is the last impression of a wine, the finish. The finish of a wine refers to the length of time the wine stays on the palate after it has been swallowed. Wines with a finish, reaching between 45 - 60 seconds, with powerful flavours still present, are wines of spectacular quality. Wine with a long finish will keep developing into two to three different tastes, ending in something diverse, delicate and very pleasant.

In summary, all these elements should be a harmonious blend and overlap perfectly, the symbol of a spectacular wine and something we always strive to achieve in our range of De Toren wines.

Choose from our delectable, award-winning range of well-balanced wines - available from our online cellar.


 


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

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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...

Bigger, Better, Best When Cellaring Wine...

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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...

Get to know the Formidable Taryn Nortje...

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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....

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

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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....

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

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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...

No One Glass to Rule Them All...

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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...

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

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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...

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

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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...

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

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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...

SA's Best Young Sommelier, Wikus Human

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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...

Exclusive interview with top Dutch sommelier, Koen van der Plas

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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...

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

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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...

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

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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...

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

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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....

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

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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...

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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...

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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...

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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...

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

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....

Gareth Ferreira, South Africa's Best Sommelier, shares his journey and future plans

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

Gareth Ferreira, the 'Best Sommelier in South Africa' and number 15 in the 'World's Best Sommelier' competition, shares his industry journey and plans for the future with us during an interview... Firstly, congratulations on your latest, outstanding achievement! Please share with us how it...

A one-of-a-kind wine club opens its doors in London

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

In this newsletter, we chat to South Africa's Best Sommelier, Gareth Ferreira about his future endeavours. Part of these plans includes his work at 67 Pall Mall, London's first club ever for wine lovers. Read more here on the interview with Gareth Ferreira This club is in a league of...

South Africa's Top Restaurants

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

With the South African Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards this past month, it is only fitting to share in the celebration of the great accomplishment of some of our esteemed customers. The annual awards ceremony, hosted in South Africa's mother city, Cape Town, is a luxurious, annual...

Our Cellar Master's visit to the USA

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

On a recent trip, our cellar master, Albie Koch, had the fantastic opportunity to visit one of America's favourite restaurants, The Capital Grille. An intimate vertical tasting of the renowned Fusion V was hosted to celebrate the end of a wonderful and successful trip. De Toren's award-winning...

The investment and collection of fine wines

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

Investment in luxury wines, such as the exclusive De Toren wine range, is by no means a new sensation or a fad. Internationally, investment in luxury wines has been around for centuries. The formal trading of fine wines, as a valuable commodity to generate profits, became a more established...

Around The World With De Toren

Notice: Undefined index: categories in /usr/www/users/detorvqyfe/cache/smarty/compile/a5/54/11/a55411a06eaf0638e4b15e016e42d7489549502c.file.news.tpl.php on line 236

South African born chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen is the first SA chef pictured above to receive the Michelin Star award for his restaurant, JAN in Nice, France. We are proud to have De Toren Fusion V on the list! Seafood is what Eddie V's is known for, but their specialty is excellence...