Cellarmaster Miles Mossop
It should come as no surprise to anybody that Miles Mossop pursued a career in wine. His father, Tony Mossop, was a distinguished authority on South African wine and when Miles graduated top of his viticulture and oenology class at Stellenbosch University it was obvious that he was a chip off the old block.
After working at Thelema and Spice Route in South Africa, and journeying further afield to Australia (Knappstein) and California (Far Niente), Miles returned to his native land to become winemaker at the fledgling Tokara winery in 2000. The reputation of Tokara wines, and the many awards he has won for them, is a testament to his success there.
He has also won awards and plaudits for the wines he makes under his own steam, and in particular the cuvées named after his three children: Maximilian, Saskia-Jo and Kika. Max, Saskia and Kika are handcrafted wines made in very small quantities and they not only reflect Miles’ skill as a winemaker but his ability to make wines of power and intensity but without losing the essentials of elegance and harmony that are required for a wine to be exceptional.
Max is essentially a Bordeaux-style blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot and malbec. Saskia is a blend of chenin blanc, viognier, a little verdelho and clairette blanc, and Kika is a 100% chenin blanc, botrytis affected and late harvested. Less than 500 cases of Max and Saskia are made, and only 50 cases of Kika. All the grapes are hand harvested, sorted carefully and then gravity fed to the vats where indigenous yeasts set about fermenting the must.
Grapes for the Max blend are cooled before fermentation and post-fermentation the must may be cooled and macerated for up to two weeks more for maximum flavour extraction. Maturation then takes place in barriques of French oak, around 40% of which is new. Bottling takes place without filtration.
For the Saskia wines, some of the grapes are picked a little early to maximise freshness while some of the chenin blanc is botrytis affected bringing some opulence and complexity to the blend. Fermentation takes place in large, old oak vats before being matured in French oak for 10 months or so. Though oak is obviously used Miles will judge how much should be new with an eye on the vintage at hand, and as such it will not necessarily be new. The 2012 Saskia saw no new oak for example. Kika is a highly concentrated Noble Late Harvest chenin blanc, produced with a mix of botrytis affected, raisined and fresh grapes.
In 2018, Miles hands over the reins at Tokara to former Eagles' Nest cellarmaster, Stuart Botha, in order to focus his full attention on this family range.