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South Africa, Stellenbosch, September 2016; A report on South African wine by one of the UK’s most respected wine authorities has awarded no less than three wines from Alto Estate in Stellenbosch with scores that place them in the small exclusive category of the world’s best. 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.

Atkin is an award-winning wine writer and UK-based Master of Wine; his special reports focus on some of the world’s most important wine regions. These hugely influential analyses are internationally regarded as a benchmark of excellence. Significantly, the UK is one of the world’s key wine markets and for South Africa in particular.

“This is indeed fantastic news,” says Alto winemaker Bertho van der Westhuizen. “Very few wines have achieved what these have. We put an extreme amount of work into especially the Alto MPHS and it’s great to see the recognition it receives.”

“Here again, is yet another important testament to the exceptional value top tier wine from South African offers UK and international wine enthusiasts.”

Just eight barrels of the Alto MPHS’ 2011 vintage were made. A blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon in equal parts, the wine’s name is an acronym in tribute to the four winemakers who built the reputation of the farm – one of SA’s oldest red wine estates. It was Manie Malan’s father who planted only red cultivars on Alto as early as the 1920s. Then, 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 is his son who holds the keys to the cellar.

For Bertho, age of the vineyards deserves a special mention. “The Cabernet Franc comes from a very special block. In the year of harvest, it was 15 years old – the second-oldest on the farm to the Cabernet Sauvignon at 18 years.”

“The Alto MPHS 2011 is proof of the invaluable contribution old vines can make to quality,” he declares.

Heritage has always combined with modern insight, teamwork and respect as ingredients in the recipe of success for Alto.

The star ratings for the Alto MPHS 2011, Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 and Shiraz 2013 come on the heels of a string of accolades for the estate. Just this year the Alto Rouge 2013 was included in the esteemed Sommeliers Selection; 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.

Central to these achievements is the location of the vineyards on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, a region that produces some of South Africa’s most iconic wines. Trellised vineyards cling to the high granite slopes 100 to 500m above sea level – ideal for the cultivation of red grape varieties; sunny days and cooling ocean breezes ensure long, even ripening and excellent quality in its grapes.