Rawsonville, located in a scenic portion of the Breede River Valley on the eastern flanks of Du Toitskloof mountains is a small wine growing region of South Africa. This small portion of the Western Cape province shone at the recently concluded USA Wine Ratings. Du Toitskloof Wines from Rawsonville took home ten awards at the competition including the Best Wine by Packaging award that was conferred to Quest One wine.
Du Toitskloof Wines was established as a co-operative by six farmers in 1962. They began their journey as a bulk-wine producer but in the early 1990s began shifting their focus to the bottled wine market. It was a move that changed the winery’s course as they soon cultivated a reputation as a progressive brand and one that constantly delivers a product of utmost quality.
This reputation was enhanced even more nearly 30 years after their change to a bottled wine producer at the 2021 USA Wine Ratings. The USA Wine Ratings singles out and shines a spotlight on wines that excel in the quality they offer to the drinker. To earn a place on a retailer's shelf or a restaurant’s wine list, these wines have to impress judges on the criteria of quality, value and money.
The judges at the competition are chosen from an elite list of retail wine buyers, Masters of Wine, sommeliers and experts who lead retail chains, and have a direct commercial buying responsibility. This year’s edition saw an impressive 12 Masters of Wine under one roof. Among those judges were Tim Hanni MW (USA's first Master of Wine); Tim Marson MW (Senior Buyer at Wine.com) and Pat Andress (Wine Product Developer, Trader Joe's Company). They judged wine submissions from over 100 varietals spanning over 1000 entries and only 134 of these wines won gold medals. In what was a very tough judging process, Du Toitskloof Wines’ Quest One rose above the other entries to win the Best Wine by Packaging award, one of the three judging criterias of the competition.
While the Quest One was the headlining wine, there were seven other wines from Du Toitskloof Wines, that were also among the winners at the 2021 USA Wine Ratings.
The wine has to be something special to impress the judges such that it is awarded two special category medals. The Quest One from Du Toitskloof Wines took home the Best Wine by Packaging and Best Wine by Country awards at the 2021 USA Wine Ratings. These special awards came on the back of its score of 93 points and a gold medal. The Quest One is a spicy red flowing with juicy bright bing cherries, plums, blackberries with toasted wood and some light vanilla.
On the palate, there is a good balance of soft tannins and ripe fruit with the mouthfeel oozing with a complexity of rich floral flavors. Quest One can be enjoyed with a rich oxtail potjie or a hearty beef stroganoff with porcini mushrooms. South Africa’s best wine is a remarkable expression of a top-quality blend of Petit Verdot, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Quest Old Vine Chenin Blanc
Following closely on the heels of the Quest One was the Quest Old Vine Chenin Blanc, which was awarded a gold medal at the competition with a score of 90 points. The Chenin Blanc can be identified at the nose from its distinctive floral notes and aromas of dried peach, citrus and lime. The wine, while respecting the fruit, shows elegant and delicate tannins. Slightly complex on the palate with subtle flavors, the Quest Old Vine Chenin Blanc is ideal to be paired with rich fishcakes and baby potatoes, or pork chops with crispy fat, or an apple and walnut salad.
Land’s End Cape Agulhas Syrah
Land’s End Wines, Source Facebook
The southernmost tip of South Africa is Cape Agulhas, a place where the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean merge. Du Toitskloof Wines have brought the diversity of this incredible place in a bottle with the Land’s End Cape Agulhas Syrah. The wine scored 89 points at the 2021 USA Wine Ratings and was awarded a silver medal. The deep ruby-purple Syrah has aromas of black cherry, spice, truffle and a hint of dark chocolate on the nose. Its velvety palate shows flavors of plum, apricot and boysenberry with a hint of smokiness. Dishes like the braised chicken and garlic sweet potatoes, grilled meat or roasted beetroot are elevated when paired with this wine.
Coriander, lavender, white pepper with some floral notes define the nose of the 82 points scoring silver medal winner Quest Two. Oak undertones and sweet ripe tannins brilliantly support the wine’s silky mouthfeel. The dried herbs and ripe fruit palate goes well with robust roast dishes like a lamb made over an open fire with oven-grilled veggies. The Rhône Style Syrah was another fine representative of the Du Toitskloof brand.
Land’s End Cape South Coast Sauvignon Blanc
The third silver medal winner from Du Toitskloof Wines was the Land’s End Cape South Coast Sauvignon Blanc. The 81 points scoring Sauvignon Blanc opens with a bouquet of wild tropical fruit, intermingled with hints of flint and freshly picked herbs. The palate has a seamless blend of candied orange, citrus, ripe kiwi fruit and Cape gooseberry. The well-integrated freshness and fruit forward finish of the wine can be enjoyed with crayfish, oysters, or asparagus spears.
Du Toitskloof Old Vine Sauvignon Blanc
Award-winning Du Toitskloof Wines, Source Facebook
The two Sauvignon Blancs on show from the South African brand both scored 81 points at the competition. The second of those two wines was the Du Toitskloof Old Vine Sauvignon Blanc. The wine has an intense complexity and a broad palate with warm, spicy notes. Tropical fruits such as kiwi and guava make an impression on the palate of a wine that delivers a cacophony of flavors.
Land’s End Cape South Coast Shiraz
The third Land’s End wine to win from Du Toitskloof Wines, the Land’s End Cape South Coast Shiraz was also a silver medal winner for its tally of 80 points. Black cherry, sandalwood and truffle notes dominate the nose which also shows hints of beetroot. The soft, velvety palate consists of flavors like plum and cherries. The wine is enjoyed best with roasted leg of lamb, grilled vegetables or aged hard cheeses.
Du Toitskloof Dimension
Finishing off the list of winners from Du Toitskloof Wines was the Du Toitskloof Dimension. The 2017 vintage traces its origins to the Western Cape and is dark in color with a lovely pomegranate hue. Aromas of prune, dark berries, chocolate and cassis make up the nose. The palate is firm and has a spicy blend of flavors that end in a long and graceful finish.
Visiting the Winery, Source Facebook
The three broad ranges of wines from Du Toitskloof Winery, Quest, Land’s End and Du Toitskloof can all be tasted at the winery during a visit. There is no prior booking required for the tasting. All the wines are offered in a 75 ml sample with the tasting fee calculated on the basis of the number of wines you select. If you purchase the wine you taste, the winery waives the tasting fee.
Aside from the wine tasting, Du Toitskloof Wines also has an in-house cafe that serves some delicious treats for all visitors. Open all seven days, the Ou Meul Bakery and Du Toitskloof Cafe has pizzas, sandwiches, coffees and croissants on their menu. The winery is looking to build on its success at the 2021 USA Wine Ratings and you can follow their journey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.