A bit like when your favourite indie band signs with a major record company, Stellenbosch property Alto lost a lot of its mystique when it came to be owned by Lusan Premium Wines (a joint venture between German financier Hans Schrieber and Distell). It’s apparently celebrating its 90th anniversary this year and the current-release wines were submitted for review:
Alto Rouge 2011
31% Cabernet Franc, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 20% Shiraz and 4% Petit Verdot. Matured for 18 months in mainly French oak, some new. Rather primary with red and black fruit very much to the fore but also spice and a certain leafiness. No great concentration but nice fresh acidity and fine tannins. Entirely straightforward.
Alto Shiraz 2011
Matured for 18 months in 60% American and 40% French oak, some new. Red and black fruit plus spice typical of the variety. Rich, ripe and concentrated although not without freshness and has good grip. Mainstream in style but more than competent.
Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Matured for 18 months in French oak, some new. Cassis and a subtle leafiness, bright acidity and fine tannins. Relatively medium bodied despite and abv of 14.74%. Hardly profound but classically styled.