Our Malbec 2013 Vintage

Falling in love with Malbec

Our Malbec harvestIn September 2010 we planted the first 2 1/2 acres of our vineyard with Malbec vines.

Earlier this year I registered myself as a winemaker with the Argentine licencing authority (Instituto Nacional de Vitivinicultura) and was granted a licence to make wine and to sell my wine to the public.

In March we harvested our very first crop of grapes which we fermented and then nurtured and fretted over for 6 months.

The INV inspector recently took samples of our wine for analysis and yesterday we received the results. Our Malbec wine passed the analysis with flying colours and I am now cleared to sell it. In fact the Inspector said it was an excellent wine. It is a dark, dark red (almost black) wine with a 14.1 degree alcohol content. Taste is of a slight hint of dark cherries with a smooth finish.

That same evening we had an offer from a wine buyer to purchase all of our 2013 vintage. It was a tempting offer, but in the end we decided to sell him only part of it and use the rest to build up a customer base for the future.

Unlike many wines, our 2013 Malbec is a totally natural wine. Fermented with the natural yeast on the grapes, no added acid, no added sugar, no added glycerine or preservatives. It is meant to be enjoyed whilst still young. So, we are feeling very content for the moment. Unfortunately we are not in a position to export (yet).

What now?

Now we have some serious work ahead of us. This year the vineyard should be in almost full production. Which means we need to increase our winemaking and storage facilities on the farm, whilst still maintaining the high quality that we achieved this year.

To all our friends out there, cheers!

A Huge Step Forward

As we live in a remote area there is a government funded programme whereby we get free hens so that we can supply our own eggs and chickens.

Our day old chicks arrived in a cardboard box. 5 dual purpose hens (egg layers and broilers for eating) plus 5 cockerels (for eating). Only after a few days they had already grown.

The young chicks explore the world

The young chicks explore the world

We kept them in a box with a heat light whilst I built a hen house for them. As they grew older they spent the day roaming free on the farm and at night they are locked in the hen house to keep them safe from wild dogs, neighbours’ dogs, foxes, opossums, snakes and ocelots.

Our free range hens

Our free range hens

But the biggest step forward for us was when the government inspector visited to see us and our winemaking facility. It passed with flying colours and now I am registered as an Argentine winemaker. This allows me to make wine for public consumption and also allows me to sell my wine either to buyers or directly to the public. Our wine label has been approved so all we need to do now is to harvest, ferment and bottle! Before I can sell a single bottle our wine will be chemically analysed to ensure compliance with the tough Argentine standards which, to me, is an excellent check and idea.

My selling limit is 4000 litres (just over 5000 bottles) a year, but this year we are going to do a small trial run to get some practice in the various stages (and get used to all the paperwork needed) before we try to elaborate our whole Malbec grape production.

The first 300kgs of grapes for winemaking

The first 300kgs of grapes for winemaking

We have been regularly checking the sugar content of the grapes and when they were ready we harvested around 300Kgs of grapes from 1 sector of the vineyard. These are now fermenting gently. We were about to harvest another 300Kgs for a second run but cold wet weather swept in, so we will wait a few days before harvesting and kicking off another fermentation.

Fingers crossed, if all goes well, our first trial run should give us around 360 bottles of finished wine to taste.

Each day we are taking a number of measurements and we are plotting a graph so we know when to move the fermenting wine onto the next stage.

Twice a day testing

Twice a day testing

The problem with winemaking is that it is a long and slow process and it is difficult to wait so long before wanting to try a bottle or two, or three…

The fruits of labour

Many of our Malbec vines are hanging with bunches of blue, almost black, grapes. The grapes are smaller than the original French variety, the skins on the berries are very thick and the colour is gorgeous!

Unlike the original French variety, our grape bunches will hang, ripening, on the vines for around 150 days. It is this long “hang time” in our warm, dry climate, as well as the thickness of the skins that contribute to making Malbec the signature wine of Argentina.

It’s a long way to go before harvest time, but let’s see what the weather produces in the next two months. Now it is weather that has the biggest influence on how our grapes will turn out.

Malbec grapes in our vineyard

A bunch of Malbec grapes ripening in the evening sun in our vineyard.