Clos Malverne Sophia Limited Release 2008
By Christian Eedes, 24 March 2011
Clos Malverne owner Seymour Pritchard says that when winemaker Charl Coetzee informed him towards the end of last year that he was considering a move to Babylonstoren, the Paarl winery owned by Naspers CEO Koos Bekker, he quickly realised making a counter-offer was pointless, much as he might like to have retained Coetzee’s services. Gone was Coetzee only to be replaced by another Coetzee, Charl’s wife Suzanne, previously of Boland Kelder.
Yesterday the release of some new vintages. First up, the Le Café Pinotage 2010, Clos Malverne’s first foray into the coffee Pinotage category and supposedly done to “move away from our overly tradional image,” according to Coetzee. As ever with these wines, it doesn’t leave much to the imagination. Total production was 500 cases and price per bottle from the tasting room is R80.
Next, the much more refined Pinotage Reserve 2009 (R140 a bottle). It includes 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and spent 12 months in mainly French oak, 60% new. Dark cherry and an appealing herbal note on the nose and palate, fresh acidity and firm but fine tannins. Severe like a PVC-clad dominatrix and I really liked it.
The Pinotage Association would have it that a wine must contain at least 30% Pinotage in order to be considered a Cape Blend but this has never bothered Pritchard, the Clos Malverne well-established version namely Auret typically having less. “We do what’s right for the wine,” he says. The 2009 vintage (R160 a bottle) is a blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Pinotage and 14% Merlot, which again spent 12 months in barrel, 60% new. Apart from a reductive note on the nose, it appears much more accessible than the Pinotage Reserve with upfront red fruit and soft tannins. “We could never decide between the Pinotage Reserve and the Auret as to which should be our flagship, so we ended up with two,” says Pritchard.
Lastly, the Sophia 2008, named after Pritchard’s wife and the second ever bottling from Clos Malverne to be given a “Limited Release” designation since a special batch of Auret from the 2001 vintage. This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot and spent 18 months in barrel, 100% new. There are very forthcoming aromas of dark fruit on the nose, while the palate shows great fruit expression, bright acidity and soft but not slippery tannins. “Complex but gentle,” says Coetzee, which is an excellent description. Total production was 600 bottles and the wine sells for R245 a bottle.