Malbec is known as ‘The Lost Grape of Bordeaux”. There were large plantings in Bordeaux and Cahors in South Western France. In 1956 a severe frost wiped out the Bordeaux Vineyards. While Cahors also had bad frosts, some of their vineyards survived and now is the centre of Malbec in France. Malbec has travelled in the world, there are successful plantings in Australia, Chile and South Africa. Malbec is a thin-skinned grape. The vine needs hotter weather with more sun that the other two Bordeaux Reds, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. Usually grown as bush vines and not irrigated and produce low tonnages a hectare.
I recently tasted 4 Malbecs and thought I would share them with you.
Charles Withington, well known for his Darling Wine Shop in the centre of the Town, buys his single vineyard Malbec grapes from Oranjefontein Farm. Grapes go to Daring Cellars for elevation.
This was the first Malbec I had the opportunity to get to know some years ago. The wine is a rich bloodplum at the heart which pales out to ruby at the edges. The aromas, followed by the palate, are of dark fruits, more rustic fruit, like roadside brambles, frais des bois, pomegranate arils, and mulberries. A sappy wine with the oak in delicate support with its brown spice and vanilla. Soft levels of fruit acidity and tannins make the wine very accessible now, though I think with a year or two of cool cellaring, you will be amply rewarded.
Let’s get Idioglossia, the nickname of this wine, out of the way first. Rikus Neethling of Bizoe wines as twin boys. Idioglossia is the language spoken by twins and not understood by anyone else.
I really like this one, I was fortunate to taste the wine with Rikus during a fleeting visit to Johannesburg this week. It is the most delicate of the four having a red cherry like translucency at the heart paling out to garnet at the edges. The aromas are all about cherries and berries and golden plums. The acidity and tannins are both gentle and amply support the fruit.
I suggest my Lamb Knuckles and Red Berry casserole as a good partner. Chill the wine slightly for greater enjoyment.
This Malbec is a unique example of the variety, showing deep colour and fynbos flavours. Matured in French oak for 12 months, the nose shows hints of fynbos herbaceousness with an undertow of eucalyptus. The palate from entry is packed with plums, berries and spices, followed by soft tannins and elegant acidity. Here is a long and gently waning aftertaste. Roberta Muir’s Steak Diane is the perfect partner.
Paul and Nicky Wallace farm in the cool Elgin valley. Malbec does so well I the Mendoza Highlands in Argentina and I can’t help but think that the cool climate in Elgin makes a great difference. Packed in a Bordeaux shaped bottle, closed with natural cork. The label is elegant and has the image of Jake, the black dog on it.
Paul and Nicky offer accommodation on their farm to make a complete breakaway.
The Black Dog is the oerfect partner to my Autumn Lamb Casserole.