18 May 2008

Clos Malverne are Pressing On!

There was a big hole in front of Clos Malverne when I visited in February and a new dynamism about this venerable specialist Pinotage winery. The energy is supplied by Zaine Pritchard, nephew of owner Seymour Pritchard. Zaine has come to Clos Malverne with exciting ideas about marketing and making the winery a must-visit destination for the burgeoning wine tourism business. The hole is the foundation of a modern new visitor centre and offices. “We want people to be able to taste our wine in comfort and without pressure. They can spend the afternoon, buy a bottle if they want and have something to eat.”

But they’re not changing their winning traditional winemaking methods. As the Clos Malverne labels say, their wines are fermented in open tanks and basket pressed according to methods used in the Cape for over 300 years. And the first thing I saw as I walked towards the winery was an old basket press being emptied of the skins. A trickle of bright, almost fluorescent, purple juice meandered across the floor. Yes, it was Pinotage.


They've opened the traditional basket press in order to dig out the compacted skins now that all the juice has been extracted.


This vintage sees a new winemaker, Charl Coetzee join Clos Malverne. Charl previously worked with Pinotage expert Danie Steytler at Kaapzicht Estate. He says “My approach is not to change too much at first, but as soon as I found my feet. ….. ..”

Zaine, Charl, Seymour and I tasted the following wines:

Devonet 2006
Cape Blend
WO Stellenbosch 14%
This is a 50/50 blend of Pinotage and Merlot. It is deep red with a warm nose and rich silky ripe mouth feel. There are some firm tannins and bright acids on the finish which become quite dry and dusty. Seymour says “at 35R this is a low price wine for easy drinking” but it seemed pretty serious to me and would benefit from ageing – and a good steak.

Heron’s Nest 2006
WO Stellenbosch 14%
Heron’s Nest
is a 2nd label for export and this is a Cabernet Sauvignon/Pinotage blend. “It's very good wine at a very good price,” says Seymour. “It’s sold in Holland, Ireland, and Belgium, biggest brand by volume. The reason it is so successful it that it over delivers quality on price.” This has a lot lighter than the previous wine, with a sweet approach leading to soft gentle berry and redcurrant fruits. Very drinkable.

Clos Malverne
Pinotage Reserve 2006
WO Stellenbosch 14%
“Focus on the balance, rather than high alcohol,” says Seymour, “though we are working on getting to 13.5% by experimenting with our picking.” This wine stains the glass and the nose is a little hot. It tastes soft and feels quite light bodied at first, but there’s a nice meaty balance between fruit and tannins. Complex and youthfully attractive. Costs 85.95R

Clos Malverne
Pinotage 1997
WO Stellenbosch 13%
Eleven years old – there’s a little stink on the nose, the wine is fully mature and light bodied with restrained aged berry fruit flavours; a very pleasant wine. “We added 15% Merlot to soften the tannins,” Seymour said.



Clos Malverne
Pinotage Reserve 2003
WO Stellenbosch 14%
This was a Top 10 winner in 2006 and it was a worthy winner, with a delightful melange of smooth ripe berry fruits, a lick of banana, gently integrated tannins and reviving acids. Cracking good wine.


Clos Malverne
Auret Cape Blend 2001
Limited Release
WO Stellenbosch 14%
Auret is the flagship wine and takes its name from Seymour’s mother’s maiden name and Seymour’s middle name. This is a Cabernet Sauvignon/Pinotage blend with 15% Merlot. There’s soft ripe fruit on this nicely aged wine; sweet mulberry and blackberry, classily velvety smooth and elegant. It is a real bargain at between 100-125R, “We like to keep our prices competitive, ”Seymour told me.

Clos Malverne
Auret Cape
Blend 2005
Limited Release
WO Stellenbosch 14%
This is four years younger but is already really pleasantly soft and well balanced with good fruit over some gentle oak tannins. 145R



Zaine expects the new tasting room to be ready in mid-2008 so I will definitely be returning to see it on my next visit.



Fermenting tank at Clos Malverne



The old tasting room is at left, the winery is at at the end at the right

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