Wine Maker of the Month – Hempies Du Toit

“Nature gives us the raw materials. I only add my thumbprint to the wine.”

Hempies du Toit, owner and winemaker at Annandale, has a passion for his craft that shines through in every bottle bearing the Annandale logo.

Hempies brings with him generations of winemaking experience, and is proud to be part of a heritage of winemakers, as he learnt the craft at his father’s knee. His father Piet was winemaker at Alto starting in 1959, and the young Hempies grew up in the cellar and vineyards, absorbing the detail of winemaking as part of his daily routine.

By 1976, he was helping Du Toit Snr with the winemaking duties and when his father retired in 1983, he became manager and winemaker at a farm that is famed for its Cabernet Sauvignon and a red blend simply called Rouge.

In 1996 Hempies set out on his own and bought the historic Annandale property. Planting only red varietals, Hempies has stayed true to his heritage and passion in making robust, old school wines that are a reflection of their terroir.

Vines are carefully selected and wines are allowed to age in barrel before release, ensuring that only the best make it to bottle.

“Wines need time to become great. These things can’t be rushed.”

 History of the Farm

Annandale is said to be the oldest farm in the Helderberg Valley. The Dutch East India Company’s Governor, Simon van der Stel,  granted the title to Jan Wismaar, the property’s first owner, in 1688. The farm was known as Brakelsdal, until in the early 1800s, when the then owner fell in love with a girl from the Annan River Valley in Scotland, and changed the name of the property accordingly.

The buildings are charmingly ramshackle but that’s not surprising as they include a cellar which predates 1700 and a manor house built in the middle of the 1700s. A river runs through the property flanked by trees planted in the late 1600s as a result of Governor Van der Stel having mandated that any tree cut for homestead purposes needed to be replanted.

In 1954 Annandale was bought by the Van Reenen family, at which time it became a riding school and a shelter for abandoned horses. In 1996 Hempies purchased the property and restored it to its winemaking roots, although the horse image on the Annandale logo still reflect this part of the farm’s heritage.

Winemaking

The Annandale philosophy is one of simplicity and honesty. With as little intervention as possible, wines are guided from the vineyard into the bottle, and allowed to express the best of what nature has to offer.

The property is planted with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Shiraz. All Annandale wines are made from grapes grown on the property, and wines are allowed to age in French oak for up to 8 years before release.

Annandale Cavalier 2004

Annandale Cavalier is a tribute to the estate’s rich equestrian history. It is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Shiraz. The wine was aged in French oak barrels for 8 years before being released. The wine exhibits a dark ruby colour and an exquisite nose of rich, ripe black fruits combined with oaky, vanilla aromas with a touch of earthiness. The Cavalier is rounded off by its well-integrated tannin structure and rich mouth feel.

Annandale Shiraz 2005

This vintage is the third release since the first Annandale Shiraz was introduced in 1996. It is a wine worthy of 100% new French oak maturation for 8 years producing a dense, concentrated wine of typical Shiraz aromas with spices, pepper nuances and dark fruit evident. This wine is exciting and demanding – almost dangerous. Definitely Annandale’s flagship wine and a great addition to any home cellar.

Annandale Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

Carefully selected from three individual vineyard blocks, this wine exhibits full flavour and concentration. Barrelled in French oak for 8 years, this is a sensational Cabernet unique to this country.  This classic wine is made in an Old World style. The wine exhibits dark fruit, with plums and mocha on the palate, supported by typical Annandale tannins. This wine is ready to drink but will age well in bottle for years to come.

Annandale CVP Port 2004

A smooth blend of Shiraz fortified with matured Brandy, this port is a perennial favourite. It shows a dark ruby colour with a garnet edge, deep stewed fruit aromas combined with hints of ripe plums and blackberries. The port has a smooth aftertaste showing neither too much tannin nor heat, or sticky sweetness, but rather, a velvety fruit finish that lingers in your mouth. Made in small quantities, this rich, fruity port is perfect for winter and a wonderful addition to the Annandale stable.

The tasting room is open every weekday and Saturday from 09h00 to 17h00. Wines are shipped free of charge to all major centres in South Africa, should you order two or more boxes.

For more information contact 021 881 3560, or visit www.annandale.co.za