Alto Wine Estate on the higher reaches of the Helderberg, one of the premium wine producing areas in the Stellenbosch Wine Appellation, is perfectly placed for the making of fine red wine. Over 100 years old since when in 1919 the owner of the farm, Hennie Malan, sold off half the land of what was known as Groenrivier Farm to his brother-in-law and set about planting vines on his remaining portion, focusing exclusively on red varieties. He named the farm Alto, a reference to its altitude (some slopes rise as high as 500m above sea level) and his striving for excellence. Alto has 93 hectares under vines. The trellised vineyards cling to the high granite slopes, ideal for the cultivation of red wine varieties.
The Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 comes from north-facing vines, between 10 and 16 years old, that grow in decomposed granite soils and clay subsoil situated at altitudes of 135m to 500m above sea level. The vines on the higher slopes are fanned by the cooling maritime breezes from nearby False Bay in the heat of summer, ameliorating the heat of the afternoon in the vineyards and allowing for a slower ripening time, thus greater colour and flavour in the final wine. A seven-wire Perold trellising system is used, which yielded an average of 8 tons per hectare. The grapes were hand harvested and taken to the cellar where Bertho van der Westhuizen and his team destalked and crushed the grape which were taken to stainless steel tanks for fermentation with special selected yeasts. The wine was racked off the after 14 days. After malolactic fermentation, the wine was taken to first-, second- and third-fill French oak barrels and matured for 18 months before being prepared for bottling.
From a Bordeaux shaped bottled, closed with natural cork. The label is simple elegant Alto. In the glass, the wine is a rich opaque bloodplum at the heart and pales out to a pale ruby at the edges. The aromas are of blackcurrant, blueberries with the oak and its concomitant spice and vanilla. The flavours are deep rich fruit, dark chocolate and some touches of kelp. The tannins are fine. The mid palate is generous and has a refreshing acidity running through it from entry. The aftertaste as expected is long and wanes gently. While eminently drinkable now, a couple of years of cool cellaring will add to your enjoyment.
The Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 is a fine wine, so perfect with food. Serve it slightly chilled. Good as an after-dinner sipper with a bar of snappy dark chocolate. The Le Creuset Website is a wonderful source of some perfect recipes using their amazing cookware of which we have a large collection in our kitchen. The Grilled Pork Chops with Honey Garlic Glaze are a rich burnished walnut in colour and just perfect with this wine. Click here for the recipe.
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