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Tokara Director’s Reserve White vertical

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Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blends are a strong, if niche, category and the Director’s Reserve White from Tokara in Stellenbosch has proved itself one of the finest examples within that category over time: 2011 rated 5 Stars (and placed among the top three) in our first annual category tasting back in 2013, the 2012 rated 4.5 Stars in 2014, while the 2014 rated 92 points in 2015 and 94 points when it was re-submitted in 2016.

Tokara Director’s Reserve White vertical
Top gear.

It was therefore a treat to attend a recent vertical tasting of the wine, 2006 to 2015 on the table. Taken as a whole, what was striking was the shift from green to yellow fruit in terms of aromas and flavours, perhaps a reflection of how pyrazine-driven wines have become less fashionable in recent times.

Among the more recent vintages, the stand-out wine for me was the 2013 – a blend of 71% Sauvignon Blanc and 29% Semillon, it showed lime and white peach on the nose, the palate pleasantly lean and fresh. Whereas most vintages have alcohols of 14% and above, this has an alcohol of 13.62% and comes across as particularly elegant. Rating on the day: 93/100.

As for the not-yet-released 2015, it rated 89 points in this year’s category tasting. Re-looking it, what’s notable is that it’s definitely a little greener in character than its immediate predecessors – notes of green bean and fynbos as well as white peach and black currant on the palate while the palate shows particularly racy acidity to go with concentrated fruit. Viticulturist Aidan Morton advises that annual rainfall is significantly reduced over the last three years while the growing season has been “concertinaed” (flowering starting at the same time as in the past but picking coming forward). Is full ripeness becoming more elusive due to the drought?

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