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Threading the Needle

South African Malbec – not unlike Pinotage – has suffered at the hands of two styles of winemaking extremists for the last decade or so. On the lighter end of the spectrum lies the insanely soft, fruit-forward, ribena-and-fruit-pastilles, instant-quaffer-type Malbecs, and on the other end one has found big, ripe, sometimes-quite-tannic high alcohol affairs, usually polished generously with oak.
This second category has – on occasions – produced some generous-but-still-quite-regal icon-style wines that have managed to impress critics here and there.
In fact, the winemaker behind today’s Langrug Malbec (Andri Hanekom) produced exactly such a wine during his 2018 vintage. And it was that DA Hanekom Langrug Malbec 2018 that went on to win top honours in the South African Malbec challenge in 2021.
But since then, winemaker Andri Hanekom has been tinkering a fair deal on his award-winning recipe, and the results of his latest efforts are truly something to behold. But more about that in the video.
If you have yet to sign up for your Monthly HanDrinksSolo Wine Subscription then you’ll have to hunt this wine down in your own time. But until then, here are my tasting notes and some technical specs:


👃🏼 Vivid blackberry, blueberry fruit and brighter cherry candy, with a lovely violet floral overtone. There are also sweeter spice elements of aniseed, Blackcurrant fruit pastille and strawberry preserve.
👄 Palate has quite a soft berry driven entry…strawberry and blackberry, but if you savour it a little, the complexity builds and you get those spicier fennel and even some pepper coming through. The tannins on this wine also build over time, and the final impression is a rather muscly affair that shows lovely fruit now, but will evolve over the next two or three years into something altogether more weightless.


🔬 Wine of origin Durbanville. The Malbec grapes were sourced from trellised vineyards planted in 2006. They are situated on the north-facing slopes of the Durbanville wine valley, with ample access to cooling breezes and slightly higher diurnal range.
Alcoholic fermentation took place in open-top fermenters with punch-downs performed every four hours, before the wine was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels.
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