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Signatures of Doolhof 2008, a Malbec from South Africa

Everyone knows that Pinotage comes from South Africa and Malbec from South
Posted 09th September 2010        
     

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Everyone knows that Pinotage comes from South Africa and Malbec from South America, right? Well, the South Africans have begun to plant Malbec so that could soon be changing. I received a bottle of Signatures of Doolhof Malbec 2008 the other day and was  very curious to try it.

I wasn’t sure what to expect as I’ve only recently become a convert to South African Pinotage. For years I could not drink Pinotage and was not a fan of many other South African wines but over the past year or so, I’ve been slowly introduced to the quality wines of South Africa and now have a firm opinion that there are some great wines being produced. South Africa is uniquely placed to grow grapes in the southern tip of the African continent, possessing excellent microclimates, soils and winemakers. Up until recently though, South African wines were either made with an eye to the domestic market or in bulk to be exported and sold as cheaply as possible.

Well, that is all changing now. South African winemakers are now modernizing their wineries, using the latest viticultural techniques and growing quality grapes as well as situating the vineyards in spots that are best suited to each particular variety. Doolhof is one such winery that is leading the way. Doolhof Estate is nestled in the remote valley of Bovlei and the area has been farmed for over 3 centuries. The current Estate dates from 1993 and vines were planted in 1995. Since then Doolhof has won many awards and the 2008 Malbec recently won a Decanter Gold Award.

The 2008 vintage has an interesting story. Right before harvest, there was a wild fire very close to the vineyards and the vines were covered in soot and ash. They thought the harvest was lost but as so often happens in South Africa, the high winds which caused the fire were soon followed by heavy rains and these rains washed the grapes clean. The decision was made to let the grapes hang for 2 more weeks in the hope that the natural acidity of the grapes would return. It was the right decision as 2 weeks later, the grapes were back on track and quickly harvested.

This was no Argentine Malbec that’s for sure. Full bodied and quite voluptuous, I found cherries, prunes and violets along with a smoky quality that was altogether pleasing on the nose and palate. I’ve often found smoke on S. African wines as being rather disagreeable but this wine was very well balanced and we all enjoyed kicking it back. The wine had a chocolate finish which seemed to run on for quite some time. Clocking in at 13.5% , it’s also not as alcoholic as many Argentine Malbecs tend to be. I’m not giving up on Argentine Malbecs but the Doolhof is a nice alternative, especially if you’re looking for something a bit out of the ordinary.

     

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Meet the Author:
Denise Medrano
I'm an American ex-pat who is fascinated by wine. Previous to my arrival in London, I had done a sommelier course in Buenos Aires, Argentina so I knew I wanted to be in the wine trade but where to start? I started where so many people in the UK wine trade start, Oddbins. I was fortunate in that Oddbins back then had a great wine education partnership with the Wine and Spirit Educational Trust and I was able take the WSET courses. I currently have the WSET Advanced Certificate as well as holding a UK personal alcohol license. Another advantage to working at Oddbins was that I had access to all the wine trade shows. Imagine, being able to go and try as many wines as you could in one day! Whew! I have to admit, I didn't do much spitting back then and the next day, I was wishing I had at least taken better notes. I started looking around on the web for blogs that covered the London wine scene and found there were none. Well, none that appealed to me. None that were a mix of trade and consumer views and opinions. And none that really talked about what a great centre of wine this fabulous city of London is. So I rolled up my sleeves, bought a domain name and the rest, as they say, is The Winesleuth history. The Winesleuth Website - Follow The Winesleuth on Twitter