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Posted by on Oct 26, 2010 in Featured, Food & Drink | 2 comments

Alto Gets Nostalgic at Launch of Pricey Alto MPHS 2007

Alto MPHS brochuresAlto corks

A very select group gathered recently at Alto Estate in Stellenbosch for the launch of the maiden 2007 vintage of the flagship Alto M.P.H.S., a 67/33 blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Called Alto MPHS, it reflects the initials of the four winemakers who have built the reputation of the dryland Stellenbosch red wine estate, set high on the Helderberg Mountain. Alto has only ever had four winemakers in its 90-year history. Manie Malan (1920 – 1956), Piet du Toit (1959 – 1982), Hempies du Toit (1983 – 2000) and Schalk van der Westhuizen (from 2001).

And all four were present at the lunch launch function. Manie Malan was represented by his son Hendrik for the tasting of vintage Alto wines. It was the senior Malan who had planted exclusively red varietals on Alto as early as the 1920s. Piet du Toit acquired the farm in 1959 before passing it onto his son, Hempies, the renowned Springbok rugby player, who took over in 1983. Current winemaker Schalk van der Westhuizen, who joined Alto in 2000 was on hand to present the wines that he had produced. 

Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 1970A tasting of 1965, 1970, 1984, 1999, 2001 and 2007 Alto Cabernets, presented by Hempies and Schalk, preceded the unveiling of the limited-edition 2007 Alto M.P.H.S. bottles.

And a very limited, and very expensive, edition it is.

Just 1,800 litres (amounting to only 2,400 bottles in 200 cases) has been produced by the historic estate.The blend has been aged for two years in French oak, and then left to mature in the bottle for another year before release. And at R700 a bottle, the flagship wine becomes easily the most expensive wine in the Distells’ boutique Cape Legends portfolio.

As Christian Eedes (chair of the WINE Magazine tasting panel and of What I Drank Last Night fame) writes in his review of the wine, “One sip and I knew I was tasting something expensive.” Even so, his initially thoughts of “R200” pale in comparison to the retail price of the M.P.H.S.

Eedes quotes Naas Erasmus, general manager of Cape Legends as suggesting that the market for M.P.H.S. is clearly an international one. “Overseas visitors want something with a serious price tag. Stellenzicht Syrah for instance at R210 a bottle doesn’t have enough cachet,” he said. Okay then.

The wine is described as having concentrated black and red fruit flavours that have been tempered by the time in French oak. Eedes describes his tasting of the wine: “There’s intense dark fruit, some floral fragrance and pencil shavings on the nose, while the palate has weight and texture, an attractive herbal note on the back palate lending interest. It’s luxuriously styled but not overdone.”

And at the price tag, that’s about as good an indication of the wine as us mere mortals are going to get, I fear. If you are feeling flush and want to grab a bottle or two of M.P.H.S. contact Cape Legends on 021 809 7000 for details of where it is being very selectively sold.

And then be sure to come back here to let us know about it!

All images by Jacques Botha of Image Solutions (


  1. Good Lord, same price as Botox, which will assist in masking the look of surprise and horror … *gazes fondly at freebie bottle of Ataraxia in wine rack*

    • Scary pricing indeed. Doubtless they will sell it all very quickly, especially as it’s such a limited bottling. But it won’t be to the likes of us.

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