Home Reviews

Alta Vista Alto 2005 et al.

Alta Vista Alto 2005
Alta Vista Alto 2005

Were there any World Cup omens to be had from a wine tasting held at Boland Cellar’s Northern Paarl facility yesterday?  Holland based Cees van Casteren, wine writer, educator and consultant hosted a formal blind tasting of 12 wine “icons” produced by the wine producing countries participating in the competition currently playing itself out and the tasting produced some intriguing results. Here are the line-up of wines with my scores according to the 20-point system alongside:

1. =Alta Vista Alto 2005 (Argentina) 18/20
1.=Talenti Brunello di Montalcino 2003 (Italy)  18/20
3.  Casa Valduga 2004 (Brazil) 17/20
4.= Chateau Angelus 1988 (France) 16/20
4. = Meerlust Rubicon 1998 (South Africa) 16/20
4. = Penfolds Grange 1999 (Australia) 16/20
4.= Rodai Reserva 2005 (Spain) 16/20
8.= Alan McCorkindale Pinot Noir 2008 (New Zealand) 15/20
8.= Guidai Deti Gran Reserva 2004 (Uruguay) 15/20
8.= Quinta da Gaivosa 2003 (Portugal) 15/20
11.= Le Dix de Los Vascos 2001 (Chile) 14/20
11.= Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2002 (United States of America) 14/20

Some general observations: As opposed to plucky triers Bafana Bafana, South Africa’s best wines are real contenders witness Rubicon finishing in the top half of the log. I found it had concentrated, pure fruit with firm tannins. In the above context, it came across as made in a modern style, possibly just a little over extracted.

Who knew that Brazilian wine was almost as accomplished as its soccer team? The Casa Valduga, made from 100% Cabernet Franc grown in the Vale dos Vinhedos region in southern Brazil wowed not just me but many of the others at the tasting.

Others at the tasting gave the Angelus ’88 short shrift on account of the pronounced evolved character it displayed, whereas I was quite partial to its earthiness and spice. This poses the question: Do we in South Africa collectively have enough experience of older wines to know what constitutes quality?

It’s not every day that you get to taste such a fine line-up of wines, and you may well be asking what was the point of it all? The event marked the launch of Thembi & Co. Wines, a recently formed partnership between entrepreneur Thembi Tobie and Boland Vineyards International. The range was launched in Holland in October last year with the Dirkzwager Group as agents. Dirkzwager country’s fourth biggest wine importer, it is also the parent company of  the 330 Mitra stores where all four of the Thembi wines are now available, selling for between around €6 a bottle.

Thembi Tobie...
Thembi Tobie...
...Naomi Campbell - separated at birth?
... and Naomi Campbell - separated at birth?

Tobie admits that Thembi & Co. is a black economic empowerment initiative but “has reservations” about BEE per se. “Basically I aim to have good quality wine at the right price in the right volumes available at the right time” and, from all accounts, performance to date has exceeded expectations. That the label carries an artfully shot image of Tobie, who bears at least a passing resemblance to Naomi Campbell, can’t be hurting sales either.


  1. Hi Christian
    Im pretty pleased with how the Rubicon did on this tasting, we have been telling you guys our wine is right up there with the best of them for years! Jokes aside,your comment of the wine being made in the modern style and quite extracted is noted and I agree with you, very much a function of the vintage in this case. It was for that reason that I put the 1998 forward for the tasting because, generally, that is the style that gets prefered in blind line ups, for better or worse. Blind tasters tend to miss the nuances and refinement of more “classical” vintages of Rubicon. Despite what some pundits say, concentration wins over finesse in blind tasting everytime.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here