Friday, 23 November 2007

TN : Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Alto Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa


Alto's history dates back to 1693, when it was part of a larger farm named Groenrivier ("Green River").

In 1919, the then owner of Groenrivier, Hennie Malan, divided the farm vertically in order to sell half of the land to his brother-in-law. The development of Malan's share was a co-operative venture between himself and his son, Manie. In the next few years they set about converting this partial wilderness into a wine farm, to which they gave the Latin name, Alto, a reference both to the altitude of the vineyards and their own aspirations. They built a homestead and a cellar, and planted the lower slopes with vines.

Malan's choice of red varieties was based on a shrewd assessment of the nature of his land. When Piet du Toit bought Alto in 1959, neither he nor the experts he called in for analysis and advice could fault the planting or the wine created by the Malans. When Piet retired in 1983, his son, Hempies, a well-known rugby Springbok, succeeded him. Hempies du Toit continued the fine red wine-making traditions of his predecessors until May 2000 when Neethlingshof's winemaker Schalk van der Westhuizen took over.



The wine is made from the grapes of unirrigated, north-facing vines between 8 and 19 years’ old at the time of harvesting. These vines grow in decomposed granite soils and a clay subsoil, at altitudes of 135 m and 475 m above sea level, with those at the higher levels cooled by False Bay breezes. A five-wire fence was used to trellis the vines which yielded a low four to five tons the hectare.

The grapes were harvested by hand at the end of March at between 24° and 25° Balling. After destalking and crushing, the mash was fermented in stainless steel tanks at between 25° and 27°C, using the selected NT112 yeast culture. The juice was separated from the skins after 10 days. After malolactic fermentation, the wine was racked into first-, second- and third-fill French-oak barrels and matured for 18 months.

A chemical analysis of the wine shows that the alcohol is 14,10% by volume, the residual sugar 3,1 grammes per litre, the total acidity 5,71 grammes per litre, and the pH 3,56.

Colour : Blackberry

Aroma : Oak, blackcurrant, spice, mint

Taste : Some blackcurrant but overpowered by oak, spice, mint, liquorice and slight sweetness on finish

Alcohol : 14%

Price : 129 SEK

Mark : C

Website : Alto Wine Estate

5 comments:

Choc said...

Until June 2007 I disliked red wine. I took a tripto Cape Town and visited Alto wine Estate to buy wine for a good friend. I tasted and visited two other wine farms and have never looked back. I enjoyed my visit to Alto after that I visited Hempies Du Toit's estate & Ernie Els. My wine rack is growing by the day.

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