There cannot be a wine drinker in the last 100 years who has not tasted an Alto Wine. If you have not, here is your invitation for some real pleasure. Bertho van der Westhuizen is Alto’s 5th wine maker in the last 100 years, having taken over the mantle from his father, Schalk a couple of years ago. Alto [meaning height] is situated in the Stellenbosch Wine Appellation, on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, close to False Bay the source of cooling breezes which, in summer, ameliorate afternoon heat in the vineyards. The vineyards are trellised, the cooler times allow for long ripening and thus greater flavour in the grapes.
At the time of the 2017 harvest, the vines were from 3 to 25 years old. The blend of grapes in this vintage is Cabernet Franc 31%, Shiraz 28%, Cabernet Sauvignon 22%, Merlot 10%, and Petit Verdot 9%. As they ripen at different times, each variety was separately vinified, fermented in stainless steel tanks with regular pump overs during the day. After malolactic fermentation, the wines were aged in a mix of first, second and third fill oak barrels, a mix of French and American oak. An excellent glass, eminently drinkable now, though will be happy to have a couple of years of cool cellaring – to reward you later.
From a Bordeaux shaped bottle, closed with a natural cork. The label is simple elegant Alto. In the glass, the wine is a vibrant plum red at the heart which pales out to purple tinged ruby at the edges. The aromas are of the earth, petrichor, brilliant red berries and cherries. These fruits are repeated on the generous palate with the oak and its concomitant spice and vanilla in undertow. Cashmere clad tannins intermingle with the fruit, the oak, the soft acidity – all in perfect harmony. An impressive glass.
The Alto Rouge 2017 is a wine for sipping while you wait for the braai colas reach the right temperature. Good after a meal with a bar of 70% chocolate. It is excellent with well-prepared dishes from the traditional Sunday Roast Lunch to a simple midweek supper. Dianne Bibby’s Parmesan Meatballs with Sundried Tomato Sauce is a great match. Click HERE for her recipe and a good trawl through her website, where many delights await you.
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