It feels rewarding discovering an absolute gem after a long day’s tasting. The Altima from Cape of Good Hope, one of the ranges from Anthonij Rupert conglomerate, proved to be just that kind of booty on this wine-filled last day of March.
The vines are grown in the Overberg region, on the fourth highest vineyards in South Africa (taking the word of my delightful host). Such heights allow for cold winters that make sure the vines undergo adequate dormancy. During dormancy vines go through various processes in an attempt to protect themselves from the cold winter temperatures while sustaining minimal metabolic functioning until the shoots grow back in spring. As with humans, sufficient vine rest allows them to grow healthier and produce better fruit. These height derived cool temperatures, in addition, promote slow ripening periods in which the grapes develop intricately delicate flavour compounds.
Picked early in the morning before the sun baked-off said compounds, these Sauvignon Blanc grapes were then transported to their cellar and received 24 hours skin contact. Following this, they were squeezed and settled (allowing the suspended large particles such as seeds, pulp debris, and skin and stem fragments to settle to the bottom) for 2 days, then cold fermented and left on the fine lees for 5 to 8 months with weekly stir ups while remaining in stainless steel.
The nose was a sheer delight. It was riddled with green pepper, black currant leaf and stone fruit aromas that seamlessly meshed together. Near typical cool climate aromas, but with more depth. On the palate the purity of fruit surprised me; showing citrus lemon and tropical guava. The acidity balanced gracefully with the fruit and lingered on indefinitely. The lees contact gave it a rounded mid palate that added positively to the body and structure.
On top of being a genuinely well crafted wine, it exhibited the exact style of SB I enjoy to drink. It had balance, and hints of complexity. The mouth feel was rounded but not heavy. It was refreshing, yet not austere. How many more SB’s are out there that show just how versatile in style this grape variety truly is?….