Monday, December 07, 2015

Wine blending fun at Alto Estate, Stellenbosch

Can you blend wine? You can learn to at Alto
Last Saturday, we were invited to join the large group of people who had won the Alto wine blending competition at the many Hussar Grills. There were also some of the Hussar owners and staff present. After a meet and greet with a glass of Alto Port, we all went into the cellar to learn how to blend wine. We were met by winemaker Bertho van der Westhuizen, who took over from his father in May this year, and is only the fifth winemaker in the estate’s 80-year history. He took us through the whole process. If you are interested in doing this, contact Alto, Apparently these blending sessions will take place on Saturdays over the season but you need to book.
Inside the tasting room
All the guests assembling on the airy deck with lovely views
And why not start with a small glass of Alto port?
Smoked salmon on chunky herbed cottage cheese
Lots of networking went on as we waited for things to get going
Summer view over the vineyards
The tasting room is protected by the tall trees
and it is nice and light and airy outside
We take our places at the 5 tables inside the barrel cellar
Alto wines for the small tasting which started the session. We tasted Alto Rouge 2013, Alto Cabernet 2012 and Alto Shiraz 2012, which we found very friendly, soft and full of fruit and spice
Winemaker Bertho van der Westhuizen
Shaun Appel told us the rules of the game
Bertho explained how we would blend the wine. We have had a bit of practice at this and were able to assist our table companions a little. We sat at different tables
We were asked to make a blend that had Cabernet as its main component, as that is what the farm does best. We could blend the 2015 pure cassis Cabernet Sauvignon, block buster savoury Cabernet Franc, perfumed and enticing Petit Verdot with soft chalky tannins and the crisp, plummy Merlot. All would bring something different to the blend
Hearing some of the history of the farm and its wines
Time to start blending and recording the results. Two tables made Cabernet-led blends and one was the winner; the others made blends with the excellent Cabernet Franc leading the way
The five blends for the judge to taste
Bertho makes up his mind
and finds his winner
Small taster-sized snacks were served afterwards. This was a mushroom salad
Small tomato bredie pot pies
A chicken topped risotto
A pasta dish
Any questions?
We all discuss our blends and compare them to the winners
Making up the winning blend
The winning table and their blend. They will get a prize of a bottle of the winning blend later in the year
Lynne’s table companions were Alan Jeffrey, Lisa Minter-Brown and Cathy Lewthwaite. Corde van Huyssteen had already left
Music on the lawn. You could stay for a wine tasting and enjoy the steak platters. Costs are involved.

Chilling on the deck after a fun experience. Thank you Alto
 © John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2015

No comments: