South Africa, Stellenbosch, September 2017; The celebrated Stellenbosch wine estate Alto, known for specialising in red wines, has seen no less than all four of its wines achieve some of the highest scores in The Special Report on South African Wine by respected UK wine Master, Tim Atkin.
Tim Atkin’s report is particularly significant in the light of the UK being one of South Africa’s main markets and is highly regarded by world’s connoisseurs as a valuable guide to wine investment.
With wines scored out of 100, the Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 and MPHS 2012 both scored 92; and, Alto Rouge 2015 and Shiraz 2015, 91. They all earn Atkins’ Medal of Excellence for wines that score above 90.
“The fact that these wines are positioned across the price spectrum in our portfolio is a demonstration of the golden thread of quality that runs throughout the range,” says winemaker Bertho van der Westhuizen.
“Alto’s terroir consistently delivers outstanding fruit on all planted varieties, thus we can safely say that Alto is a red wine specialist; evident in this latest assessment. Tim Atkin tastes around the world; his evaluation is an important indicator of how the style of wine we produce appeals to an international audience.
The South Africa Special Report, now in its fifth edition, is published annually and invariably follows Atkin’s visits to the Cape winelands. He tasted nearly 1 700 wines for the 2017 edition, with final detailed results announced published on 13 September, the day of WOSA’s Intrepid Tasting in London.
“Overall, I am extremely impressed with the quality … The South African wine scene has never been more exciting or more diverse,” he writes in a report summary.
Atkins says that both at home and overseas, there is a growing awareness of the winemaking and viticultural revolution that is unfolding in the Cape. “Consumers worldwide are becoming increasingly passionate about South African wines.”
This is not the first time that Alto has done well in Atkins’ report. The MPHS 2011, Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 and Alto Shiraz 2013 were all 90-pointers last year. A regular top performer, the Alto Rouge 2015 was most recently included in this year’s Sommeliers Selection, an awards programme with South Africa’s leading professional sommeliers as its judging panel.
Alto got its name from its elevated location of its 93ha of granite-clinging vines on the shoulders of the Helderberg Mountain – a dramatic backdrop in the Stellenbosch district.
From the tasting room, the vineyard-covered valley drops away into distant hills. Beyond them, you can see Table Mountain and the blue-grey range of peaks aligned along the westward curve of False Bay.
The bay is the source of the soothing afternoon breezes that slows ripening in the fruit and develops flavour. But climate is not everything. Generations of observation and know-how matched the best varieties with the aspect and soils too; Alto for one, dates back to 1693. Today, few regions have produced as many iconic wines, which is why it is geographically famous as the Golden Triangle.