Picture: 123RF/jeka81
Picture: 123RF/jeka81

A wine so fancy that it’s kept in its own specially crafted box; so special, in fact, that the box can be opened only by a unique Allen key. You could own one if you bought De Toren’s The Black Lion shiraz.

Sure, a bottle of the 2016 vintage costs R2,522 a go. You may think: "The price tag, the box, the key — it’s all a big marketing stunt."

But it isn’t. The FM recently spent some time at the De Toren Estate in Stellenbosch, and tasted a drop of the stuff. It’s velvety and rich, and pretty much exactly what you want from a shiraz.

When you hear the story of how it’s made, this all makes sense.

In a quest to push the boundaries and create something stellar, the team at De Toren started out by using infrared aerial imaging to find the best and most suitable individual vines in the region, eventually settling on a selection growing in the Swartland and in Stellenbosch’s Helderberg and Polkadraai areas.

Only four meticulously hand-manicured bunches were grown per vine. The team wore surgical gloves when handling the grapes, which were hand-harvested at sunrise and destemmed within an hour. The grape skins and other solid parts were punched down by hand into the juice, and then it was fermented in French oak for 18 months.

After this, the wine was decanted (also by hand) into one of no more than 1,200 bottles, labelled and numbered.

Absolutely no machinery was used at any stage — which explains the price and the quality too.

This is a treat, with over 40 years’ ageing potential — if you can hold out that long, that is.