South Africa, Stellenbosch, October 2016; ALTO WINE ESTATE’S reputation as a producer of iconic red wines was reaffirmed following the announcement of this year’s medal winners at the Veritas Awards. The famed Stellenbosch producer received Gold for the Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, adding yet another accolade to its long list of achievements.
“Stellenbosch is Cabernet country and this medal proves again how perfect our terroir suits the variety,” declares Alto winemaker, Bertho van der Westhuizen.
Alto took to the Veritas podium at a dazzling gala event hosted on Friday at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC). Its achievement is even more outstanding in the light of the competition’s 1 670 contenders this year. With 142 Cabernet Sauvignon wines entered, the category was one of most hotly contested. Alto was among only nine in this tiny group to win Gold.
Now in its 26th year, the Veritas Awards are widely regarded as South Africa’s premier wine challenge, while the distinctive Veritas symbol of excellence serves as an authoritative quality guideline for wine and brandy connoisseurs. Alto’s wines were singled out once again through the Veritas blind tasting process that involves over 120 authoritative international and local judges.
The accolade follows the latest report on South African wine by one of the UK’s most respected wine authorities that awarded no less than three wines from Alto Estate with scores that place them in the small exclusive category of the world’s best. Award-winning wine writer and Master of Wine, Tim Atkin rated all three within 90-100 points, with the Alto MPHS 2011 achieving an almighty 95. The Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 scored 92 points and the Alto Shiraz 2013, 91.
Furthermore, Alto Rouge 2013 was included in the esteemed Sommeliers Selection this year; its Shiraz 2013 claimed top spots at both the internationally acclaimed Syrah du Monde 2016 and the Shiraz SA Wine Challenge; and, last month its Cabernet Sauvignon was named champion in the wooded category for the variety at the 2016 SA Young Wine Show.
Terroir has as much to do with the inimitable standard of Alto wines as the estate’s foundation of heritage as the country’s oldest red wine estate, keen modern insight and teamwork.
Its vineyards lie across slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, a region that produces some of South Africa’s most outstanding wines. Its trellised vineyards cling to the high granite slopes 100 to 500m above sea level – ideal for the cultivation of red grape varieties. Here, optimal sunlight and cooling ocean breezes ensure the long, even ripening essential to production of the best fruit.
Nurtured to their prime, the fruit is transferred to the cellar for vinification in a tradition preserved by a handful of winemakers. There are few wine estates like Alto that have had only five winemakers in a century, and even fewer with two father-and-son combinations over the same period. In fact, the famed Alto MPHS blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon was made in celebration of this rarity. The wine’s name is an acronymic tribute to the winemakers who laid Alto’s foundations: Manie Malan’s father planted only red cultivars on Alto in the 1920s; Piet du Toit acquired the farm in 1959 followed by his son, Hempies, the renowned Springbok rugby player who took over in 1983; Schalk van der Westhuizen joined Alto in 2000 and now it’s his son who holds the keys to the cellar.