Black Dog Malbec [MAHL-beck] Vertical Tasting
One of the six grape varieties in a Bordeaux red blend. Malbec is a grape variety that originated in France, where it was primarily used as a blending grape to make Bordeaux for many years. Unfortunately Malbec did not respond well to the climate in France. Malbec is also known as Côt in France’s Loire Valley.
Malbec is now grown widely in Argentina, specifically in the high-altitude region of Mendoza. Even though it is used as a blending grape in many Bordeaux wines, it is also amazing as a single-varietal wine.
Malbec is a black grape variety and typically produces deep coloured, medium to full-bodied wines with great tannins structure and flavours of black fruits and spicy flavours of the oak. It can develop outstanding flavours of fruit and meatiness.
Paul Wallace is a phenomenal viticulturist with a great love for the cool Elgin terroir. Paul and Nicky are living a dream they never thought was possible. Being at the right place at the right time made their honeymoon-driveby town the perfect place to settle down when Paul said: “This is the best place to plant grapes.” What great motivation that if you follow your dream it can come true.
Elgin known for its cool-climate wines and are blessed with good natural acidities. Other warmer areas tends to be bigger, more riper fruit and more alcoholic whereas in Elgin with its cool-climate it tends to be bright and fresh in the mouth, great purity of fruit in the wine with that bit of savoriness.
The Paul Wallace Malbec 2004 received a 4 star rating in John Platter. The 2004, 2005 and 2006 were all grapes from Paarl. It was only until 2008 when the first vintage made from Malbec grapes was harvested from their own farm and currently the only farm in Elgin to produce a Malbec.
The name on the label “Black dog” refers to their Labrador/Rottweiler dog, who is now in doggy heaven. Since the grape is known as the Black Grape it has been incorporated into the name.
We did a vertical tasting of 6 vintages of the Paul Wallace Black Dog Malbec starting at their latest vintage. Tasting them all together was amazing and it really showcases the expression and the consistency of the wine itself. We started off with the BLACK DOG MALBEC 2018. It hasn’t been released yet and was bottled in August 2020. Still a bit young and needs more time in the bottle but overall a delicious wine and I can only imagine how this vintage will develop and open up in beautiful flavours. This one was also added to the International Wine Challenge Competition. So it will be great to see this wine being released with an award!
BLACK DOG MALBEC 2017 Definitely much more softer than the 2018 vintage as it has time to settle down nicely. Smooth, well-balanced with fresh fruity flavours. With the 2017 and 2018 a splash of Petit Verdot was added. BLACK DOG MALBEC 2016 Fairly warm year and grapes were picked earlier. Aromas of black fruit and coffee notes can be picked up. On the palate it still shows elegant acidity, soft mouthfeel and silky tannins.
BLACK DOG MALBEC 2015 This was just a supreme vintage in Elgin and the gorgeous taste speaks for itself. This vintage is absolutely outstanding. They picked it ripe. Great structure with a wonderful mouthfeel of dark fruits and spice. This vintage also has a higher alcohol content but overall my favourite vintage! This one ticks all the boxes.
BLACK DOG MALBEC 2013 Elegant acidity with warm notes of spice from the oak and savoriness. The fruitiness balanced the soft tannins for an elegant wine. BLACK DOG MALBEC 2011 This one was just amazing and also a favourite of mine alongside the 2015 vintage and shows how well this Malbec has developed in 10 years.
Nicky spoilt us with a tasting of the PLAISIR DE MERLE MALBEC 2011 This is a wine from Paarl with a warmer climate and was great to compare the bolder, fruity and slight mintiness with the elegant cool-climate Black Dog 2011. We also got to taste an Argentinian Malbec – TRIVENTO GOLDEN RESERVE MALBEC 2012 Comes from a premier region called Luján de Cuyo in Mendoza. Lush and intense but also bright and a balanced mouthfeel, this Malbec shows blackberry flavours followed by meaty notes.
Malbec pairs extremely well with leaner red meats, and even lighter cuts like dark meat turkey or roasted pork. It also works well with pepper, sage, creamy mushroom sauces and cheese.
Information on Tastings and Cottage Bookings:
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? You can also read a previously article I wrote when we stayed at the cottages: