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Wine lovers with a passion for Alto have had their faith rewarded once again following outstanding news from the UK, one of the world-leading markets for wine. Not only were four Alto wines singled out for Medals of Excellence in an annual industry assessment by Master of Wine Tim Atkin, but one of them was among just 8% that hit the magic score of 95/100.

Alto MPHS 2015 was only one of 160 wines of the 2,115 reviewed this year to rate 95 and over. As such, it is a recipient of the coveted Medal of Excellence along with the Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, which scored 93 points; Alto Signature Red Blend 2016, 93; and, Alto Rouge 2017, 90.

“Reliability and consistent quality have always been hallmarks of our wine. Thanks to Tim Atkin’s authoritative ratings that enjoy an international following, the fact is re-affirmed,” says Alto winemaker Bertho van der Westhuizen.

While Alto wines are all regular visitors to the podiums of esteemed championships, Atkin awarded Medals of Excellence last year too, to the Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2015; Alto MPHS 2013; Alto Rouge 2016; and, Alto Signature Red Blend 2015.

Competition was at its fiercest this year, which makes Alto’s achievements that more impressive. The Tim Atkin MW 2019 South Africa Special Report in which the ratings are published is the largest of the six preceding editions, running to more than 240 pages.

Where Alto’s highest scorer this year is concerned, Bertho indicates that 2015 was an exceptional year for South Africa.

“The Alto MPHS 2015 is a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, from the two oldest vineyards on the farm.

“It’s a deep rich wine with fine tannins that shows to be exceptionally well integrated.”

His tasting notes of the vintage indicate a dark, red fruit on the nose with touches of wood spice. On the palate, elegance shines through, thanks to great balance of fruit, structure and acidity. The winery suggests as a food pairing dishes such as sautéed pork chops served with fennel or a wild-mushroom ragù served with pappardelle pasta and parmigiano cheese.

The success of the wines this year comes at an auspicious period in Alto’s long history, which recalls the proud story of a Stellenbosch champion and the people who have made it so.

Bertho is only the fifth winemaker at Alto since the winery was established. And as with some of his predecessors, he was raised among the vineyards that he would later become responsible for.

The estate itself comprises 191ha with some 93ha planted to vine and is located on the Annandale Road off the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West. It is situated in the heart of the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’, a region so named for the significant number of award-winning wines it has produced.

The farm lies on the warmer northern slopes of the Helderberg, scientifically shown to be well-suited for the making of quality red wine in particular – a fact now highlighted once again in the latest report by Tim Atkin.