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Alwyn van der Merwe

Director of Investments

Mention South African red wine and the first varieties likely to spring to mind are cabernet sauvignon and shiraz or syrah. It’s not uncommon, however, to see a number of lesser-known and often non-French cultivars such as sangiovese (Italian) and tempronello (Spanish), or even tannat (French), on the shelves of reputable wine merchants these days. Another example is malbec, which is no stranger in South Africa – I had the privilege of enjoying Niel Joubert’s The Proprietor Malbec 2015 recently.

Malbec grapes are often used in a traditional Bordeaux blend, as is the case in France. But many wine consumers will recognise that malbec is now making waves as Argentina’s signature variety. In South Africa, the cultivar constitutes only 0.5% of our vineyard plantings, but it has certainly gained popularity in recent years as more local producers respond to increased demand for this unique grape variety.

The Proprietor Malbec introduces itself with quite a presence. The packaging is stylish, the bottle heavy, and the wax capsule would indicate that the entire offering received special attention from the producer.

The 2015 wine still appears fairly youthful in the glass – it’s bright with an intense, deep colour at the centre. The nose presents a bouquet of primary flavours, as prominent fruit aromas – dark fruit and prunes – combine with spicy cinnamon and cloves to round off a complex and attractive introduction.

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On the palate the wine is ripe, repeating many of the primary characteristics of the nose. These flavours are complemented by flavours of dried fruit, and a gamey character with a hint of liquorice.

This is a full-bodied wine but, importantly, not flabby. The natural acidity provides the balance needed for the ripe fruit and the wood treatment the wine received. The fine, ripe and almost granular tannin structure enhances the mouthfeel.

The long and pleasant aftertaste is a testament to the winemaker’s judgement in getting the balance just right in this undeniably big wine.

Niel Joubert’s The Proprietor Malbec 2015 can be enjoyed on its own, but it would also make the perfect partner for hearty winter stews.


Sanlam Private Wealth clients can purchase the Niel Joubert The Proprietor Malbec 2015 for a special price of R430 per bottle (cellar price R480).

The offer is open exclusively to Sanlam Private Wealth clients. All wine offers expire after 30 days. Subject to availability.

For more information visit

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