Tokara Telos 2015
By Christian Eedes, 22 July 2019
Telos 2015 – R4 200 a bottle – from Tokara in Stellenbosch. Vanity project? Another well-meaning but half-baked effort to elevate the reputation, and in conjunction, the price of South African fine wine? Yet more smoke and mirrors from the top end of the industry?
It’s been in the market for a while now and has generally been well received without necessarily changing the debate. For whatever reason, yours truly only got to taste it for the first time last week and yowzers, I’m impressed.
Long-serving viticulturist Aidan Morton cues it up well – “part of the plan from day one”, “a red wine to compete with the best in the world” and “something to put SA on the map”. Tokara is, of course, a project owned by business magnate GT Ferreira, first bottling back in 2001 – as Morton says having both Rustenburg and Thelema as neighbours, there was always the conviction that greatness could be had, especially if there was utter attention to detail in both vineyard and cellar. “No excuse not to pull something “wow” out of the bag,” as he puts it (and let’s not forget that the accomplished Miles Mossop was still incumbent when this wine was made).
The price alone will make some automatically skeptical but it is a rather wonderful wine, predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon – 92% from a particular block less than a hectare in size and dear to Morton’s heart and the rest 5% Malbec and 3% Merlot; maturation lasting 22 months in French oak, 60% new; alcohol: 14%.
The nose shows red and black fruit, violets, the vaguest hint of fresh herbs plus attractive and subtle oak spice. The palate is surprisingly medium bodied (for a wine with such a big price tag) and shows beautiful fruit purity to go with silky tannins. It’s lithe and energetic with fantastic refreshment value, and another compelling argument that Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon can be a world-beater.
Editor’s rating: 95/100.
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