Exploring Bordeaux-Style Wines in Stellenbosch South Africa

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With temperatures currently so low in the evenings, the only real substance (other than Anna’s amazing winter food) which I find warms me up is a great glass of red wine.  There is nothing quite like a South African Bordeaux-style red blend.


What is a Bordeaux-style blend?

I’m sure that most of you are aware that Bordeaux is one of the most famous wine regions in France, known for producing some of the top wines in the world as well as some of the most expensive wines!  When other countries make blended wine using varietals originating from Bordeaux these wines are known as Bordeaux-style blends.

A white Bordeaux-style blend will be a blend with Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, but one more commonly refers to the red style when speaking about a Bordeaux-style blend.  There are five main red varietals grown in Bordeaux and a Bordeaux-style blend needs to contain two or more of these varietals.  They are namely Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

It is easy to get technical with right and left bank Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon grown more dominantly on the left bank and Merlot on the right bank of the Gironde River), but I’m not going to detail this differentiation just yet.

With Bordeaux’s 1855 classifications and age-old reputation for great wine, the prices there just seem to keep climbing, and with a massive hail-storm which wreaked havoc there this week and damaged many crops one can only expect the prices to keep climbing.





De Toren is a winery based in Stellenbosch South Africa and was founded by Emil and Sonette Den Dulk in 1994. De Toren, which translated from Dutch means “the tower”, refers to the winery structure, which allows for gravity-flow winemaking.   The winery is world-renowned and only makes two wines, both Bordeaux-style blends.


The De Toren Z is the second wine released with the maiden vintage made in 2004 by De Toren.  The name “Z” (pronounced ‘Zee’) refers to the ‘Zephyr’ wind that sweeps its way from the sea through the vineyard block used for this wine.  This specific vineyard block has adopted the same name, Z.


Interestingly, this vineyard block is higher in clay content and is therefore better suited for Merlot which makes up the backbone of this wine.  The blend is made up of 58% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, 11% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petit Verdot.  It was matured in 225lt French Oak barrels, with the Malbec component aged in American Oak.


It’s a beautiful clear, deep ruby colour with aromas of blueberries, mulberries, cardamom, dark chocolate and hints of cinnamon which take me back to a South African dish called melkkos (milk food).  Melkkos is a dish made from flour, butter and milk, sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.


I love the way in which a wine such as this one can bring back wonderful memories whilst keeping me warm during a chilly winter’s evening.


What are your favourite Bordeaux-style blends?  Have you tried any from South Africa and did you enjoy them? What wines have you had that have stirred up some nostalgia?


Written by: Kim Drake
Photographs: Courtesy of De Toren Wine Estate


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