The results for the Malbec Challenge 2023

by | Dec 11, 2023 | Article, News, Opinion

A word from the chairperson – Carrie Adams

Malbec is an interesting and (I think), quite a difficult grape variety to vinify.  It is famously dark, sulky, juicy, tannic, sometimes alcoholic and an integral component of our much-loved Bordeaux Blends.  It can be quite fussy in both the vineyard and the cellar.  Loves higher altitudes and does well as a bush vine in places like Mendoza and Cahors.  We have a couple of producers of single varietal Malbec in South Africa, and I was treated to a tasting panel of Christine Rudman and Normal Ratcliffe last week where Celia Gilloway asked us to assess the entrants for this year’s Malbec Challenge for Events by Celia.   It was wonderful and the three of us slipped into a familiar and easy space that we have enjoyed together for a hundred years.  It is the second time I have chaired this panel and happily so.  Whilst the varietal is not everybody’s ride or die, it’s certainly capable of producing interesting, enjoyable reds.  We decided that with all the blockbuster spice-laced fruit, these Malbecs make the perfect Christmas wine.

The standard was high, and the winning wine was Mount Vernon 2021.  It is the second time this property has taken the Tonnellerie De Mercurey barrel either 225, 228 or 300L according to the winning wineries specifications, thanks to RX South Africa home.  It is lovely wine, beautifully crafted.  A fabulous coming together of black and dark blue fruit with hints of the earthiness that can be Malbec.  Very grippy (yet polished) tannin.   I think it can go for a bit in the bottle but its certainly up for a spin on your Christmas dinner table this year.  At R300 a bottle (retail) it is a very good tipple

The typicity was good and the entries displayed the different styles of Malbec admirably.  It is a small, but meaningful category and I think that its natural charm (when well made) will attract a devoted following.

A most enjoyable and enlightening tasting of a not so well-known varietal in South Africa


Mount Vernon 2021

GOLD MEDALS (in alphabetical order)

Bellevue Malbec 2021

Blake’s Single Vineyard Malbec 2022

Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Malbec 2022

Dornier Malbec 2019

Dornier Malbec 2021

Fairview Malbec 2022

Glen Carlou Collection Malbec 2018

Le Pommier Jonathan’s Malbec 2022

Mt Vernon Malbec 2020

Olivedale Respect for Nature 2019

Sonklip Malbec 2022


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