*This article was originally published on Real Time Wine by guest writer Bryce Gillespie – 10 January 2014*
Earlier in the year, SuperFAN Charl Engels and I were invited by another SuperFAN, Charlotte Spicer, to head over to De Toren for a special VIP tasting with them. The De Toren tasting is already pretty special, so I was extra excited for this one. I had absolutely no idea it would turn into what it did… This is my attempt at an enthralling “recap” of the afternoon’s events.
We’re on our way to De Toren Wine Estate for a VIP tasting courtesy of our high-level status on the popular social wine review app, Real Time Wine. My expectations are well and truly through the roof and I’m beginning to doubt whether the unsuspecting marketing manager will have any chance of meeting them. Cutting to the chase, I soon realise that I am indeed going to be disappointed. There is no Book XVII lined up for the tasting this evening.
For those of you not in the know, Book XVII is a limited production wine made by De Toren that retails at a cool R1800 a bottle. How do you like them apples?
However, as we are taken through the recently developed cellar space where the Book XVII elixir is brought to life, the consulting winemaker/viticulturist/project leader/big-boss-man comes strolling into the room. After a brief introduction, Gregor Drescher questions our knowledge of French wines. Visibly unimpressed by our meek “hmms” and “uhms”, he reaches for a magnificent bottle standing open on the table in the centre of the cellar.
“You guys ever heard of this?” he asks as he pours a tasting into a wine glass the size of my head. It is the 2010 Visionnaire. A French wine falling under the Expression Unique portfolio managed by De Toren owner, Emil den Dulk, and Gregor Drescher. I’m assuming there are other players involved as well. The De Toren Book XVII, another wine called Red Granite (from somewhere in Europe) and the Visionnaire make up the portfolio of site specific wines of a nature and form you have never imagined.
The Visionnaire is a wine made from grapes that have received the kind of attention that numerous families would never even dream of giving their firstborn. In fact, from Gregor’s explanation of “diva” viticulture, the image in my mind is of him spending every waking moment with the vines as they go through their yearly cycle, with him being extra careful not to spit out his mouthwash on to the soil or roll into them as he’s tossing and turning in his sleeping bag every night.
If I’m honest, smelling the wine does not prompt the nervous little girl inside of me to wet her panties with delight, and it seems rather uninviting. The wine’s caretaker dutifully informs us that this is simply a result of the wine still being a bit “closed off”, kind of like your girlfriend should you forget that thing she’s been reminding you about before you even started dating.
Yet lo and behold, as the wine graces my lips and tongue with it’s almighty presence, something far above and beyond a simple wine tasting experience emerges from my sensory organs. What seems like the Closing Ceremony fireworks from the 2010 FIFA World Cup combined with all the purple and black berries from every LiquiFruit advert ever made explode all over my mouth and my tongue just falls limp in joyous drunken shock. When I finally gather the courage to swallow the fluid that surely stems from the Fountain of Youth, I am anything but relieved of the moment of Utopian bliss from just a second ago. As if ghost wine now resides in my mouth, all the tastes and sensations remain, if not even heightened as a result of the influx of oxygen into the crevice that will no doubt ever be the same again, even should I be blessed with but one brief tongue tickling session with Rachel McAdams.
Whilst my brain and soul are dealing with sensory overload, there is some talking in the background and we move on to taste a few other wines. Needless to say, at that stage I was but a jealous lover who had no interest in any other vinous specimen, as they were in no way suitable to even think of being able to be sipped upon by me.
And thus, as a result, that day shall forever be known as “Unsurpassable wine drinking experience benchmark day that will never ever be beaten by anything ever in the world ever niki touch-backs, touch black can’t give back” day.
On a side note, I have tasted the De Toren wines in another setting, and they are superb.
So that’s my story! Turns out this foray into Real Time Wine has its perks!
Ciao for now.