Getting ready to release our first Malbec!

We are just about ready to release our very first single varietal bottling of Vrede en Lust Malbec! We planted the 2ha (5 acre) block of Malbec on decomposing granite soils, high up on Vrede en Lust in 1998 and it is now in mature production. Although we did not register the block as a ‘single vineyard’ with the local authorities, the wine is really a single vineyard wine and will be registered as such in the future.

We first started thinking about a varietal bottling last year when the 2007 wine showed great purity of fruit and a very smooth, gentle palette. Many visitors to our wine blending event at the Franschhoek Uncorked Festival, also loved the Malbec by itself. We decided to rather go with the 2008 and aim for a fresher style that could go to market sooner.

The 2008 Malbec will also be the first of Susan‘s red wines to be released. The other red wines were still made by our previous winemaker and at best Susan had involvement in the final blends and oak regime of these wines. The Malbec will soon be followed by the 2007 Sarah and 2007 Boet Erasmus, both from Susan’s first full vintage at Vrede en Lust. More about these wines later!

As with Susan’s other reds, I find the style clean, purer expression of fruit and with good ‘lines’ and  complexity. I really enjoy her style of wine and am sure her reds will do as well as her whites have done – always sold out ahead of the next vintage’s release!

One of the traditional “Bordeaux varietals”, Malbec has characteristics that fall somewhere between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It is the first red grape variety to ripen at Vrede en Lust and by coming in at the start of February, it avoids ripening in our warmest month. Its berries are normally larger than Cab Sauv or Merlot berries.

Our Malbec typically adds complexity to the Vrede en Lust Bordeaux blends by contributing deep color, smooth tannins, blackberry, mulberry and a particular plum-like flavor component.

For the first release, we decided to bottle only 300 cases of the 2008 Malbec and have priced it for local retail at R69.  It will allow us to test the market with a smaller run and give us time to build more demand for the wine. The 2008 Malbec was matured without any oak contact and is a very smooth, delicious wine with lots of dark berry fruit on the nose. It is ready for enjoyment now with a wide range of dishes.

The 2009 is currently maturing and part of the batch was fermented in French oak. Susan kept part of wine in stainless steel and blended the 2 batches post malolactic fermentation. We have made a larger quantity of the 2009 Malbec and it looks very exciting at this stage of its maturation process!

Malbec has experienced a massive increase in sales in the USA, where the Argentinian producers have really made huge inroads over the past few years. In South Africa there are not many single varietal Malbecs available at present, although I expect this to change going forward.