The wines of Tokara   
Stellenbosch revisited, part 10

Tokara is one of the new stars of the South African wine scene. It’s owned by GT Ferreira, who started financial company RCI (which in 1985 merged with Johann Rupert's Rand Merchant Bank) 40 years ago. In 1992 GT acquired a substantial property in the Simonsberg Mountain area of Stellenbosch and became friends with his neighbour, Gyles Webb of Thelema. Gyles encouraged GT to plant his property with vines, and the result was Tokara. The first vines were planted in 1998, and the first wines (2001) were produced under the Zondernaam label, until quality was sufficient for the Tokara wines, which were first made in 2005.

As well as the 60 hectares of vines on the home property, Tokara also have smaller vineyards in Elgin (Highlands Farm) and Walker Bay (Siberia in Hemel-and-Aarde). Miles Mossop is the winemaker - he's been here since the beginning - with consultancy from Gyles Webb. The second label Zondernaam is now discontinued; all wines are Tokara, with the creation of a separate reserve level.

Miles Mossop

It was a glorious summer's day when I visited, and we spent a while looking over the property, which is quite stunning, with nice views across to neighbour Delaire Graff. A tasting and lunch followed: the restaurant here is pretty smart.

‘The soils are quite rich here,’ says Miles Mossop, ‘so we end up with big canopies. Vigour is the issue.’ In order to deal with this they have planted deep rooted grasses to provide competition, and have taken bigger crops to get the vines in balance. They have also tried split canopies with some wider spacing. ‘We get freshness despite the high alcohols because of the big canopies,’ explains Miles. He’d like to pick earlier but when he walks through the vineyard he often sees fruit at 23 Brix (14% alcohol potentially) and knows that he can’t pick it.


Tokara Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Western Cape, South Africa
This is a mixture of Stellenbosch, Elgin and Hemel en Aarde fruit. Fresh, focused and bright with good acidity and nice pure citrus fruit. 89/100

Tokara Walker Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011 South Africa
Nice precision here with pure fruit and some nice mineral characters. Stylish with nice lemony fruit. 90/100

Tokara Elgin Sauvignon Blanc 2010 South Africa
Green herbal nose with some whisky notes. The palate is intense and bold with green herbal fruit. Very lively and intense. 88/100

Tokara Director’s Reserve White 2010 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Sauvignon and Semillon, barrel fermented. First vintage 2004, and first with Semillon in the blend was 2006. Powerful and intense with some tropical fruit, pear and citrus characters. Lovely grapefruit notes, too. Bold and delicious. 93/100

Tokara Chardonnay 2011 Western Cape, South Africa
From Stellenbosch, Elgin and Hemel en Aarde. Fresh, pure, crisp and fruit driven with good acidity and nice purity. Some white peach, too. Shows precision. 90/100

Tokara Reserve Collection Walker Bay Chardonnay 2009 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Toasty, taut and crisp with nice precision and intensity. The palate is fresh and fruity with some toasty richness and a smooth, creamy texture. Subtle fig and green pepper notes. 92/100

Tokara Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2010 South Africa
Fresh, precise and taut with nice lemony notes and a lively grapefruit character. Powerful, rich but with good acidity. 91/100

Tokara Shiraz 2009 Stellenbosch, South Africa
15.2% alcohol. Mostly from the Tokara property. Ripe, sweet and lush but still well defined with pure, vivid fruit: cherries and plums. Nice purity. 89/100

Tokara Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Nice blackberry and blackcurrant fruit with some lushness. Pure, ripe and modern. 90/100

Tokara Reserve Collection Syrah 2010 Stellenbosch, South Africa
This is cofermented with 8% Viognier. Fresh, aromatic and pure with sweet perfume, showing a hint of apricot. The palate shows vivid black cherry fruit with nice density and some tannic structure. Pure, impressive and well defined. 94/100

Tokara Pinotage 2010 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Sweet, pure and vivid with nice definition and some spicy oak. Lovely juicy fruit. Ripe but structured with nice purity. 90/100

Older notes (from March 2010):

Tokara Sauvignon Blanc 2009
A blend from all three properties. Very pure with lovely balance between the ripe tropical/melon/passionfruit notes and the fresh grapefruity/grassy characters. Lively and full. 90/100

Tokara Chardonnay 2009
From all three properties. Fresh and stylish with herb, melon and a bit of citrus character. Lovely pure fruit dominates here, with good balance. 89/100

Tokara Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Walker Bay
Precise, pure and grassy with lovely freshness. Intense and lively with lovely texture and good acidity. A pure wine. 92/100

Tokara Reserve Chardonnay 2008 Walker Bay
Complex, nutty, mineral nose is slightly reduced. The palate is focused and nutty with sophisticated oak and lovely fruit. 92/100

Tokara Directors Reserve White 2008
A blend of 28% Semillon and 72% Sauvignon, aged in French oak for 9 months. Precise, bright, grassy and lemony. There’s some nice texture here as well as precise lemony fruit, with stylish oak emerging on the palate. A complex gastronomic wine. 93/100

Tokara Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Very fresh, minty, gravelly nose with bright berry and blackcurrant fruit. The palate is elegant with minty freshness, bright fruit, and a hint of greenness. 91/100

Tokara Directors Reserve Red 2006
72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petit Verdot and 8% Merlot. Intense, pure and sweet with nice savoury focus. Minerally and savoury with nicely dense, earthy, spicy fruit and a grippy, gravelly finish. Quite stylish. 91/100

UK agent: Enotria


Part 1, Waterkloof
Part 2, Waterford
part 3, Reyneke
Part 4, Kanonkop
Part 5, Rustenberg
Part 6, Meerlust
Part 7, Delheim
Part 8, Thelema
Part 9, Neil Ellis

Part 10, Tokara
Part 11, Oldenburg


Wines tasted as 03/12 and 03/10  
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