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Denis Malbec | Grape Legends

    Winemaker, enologist, and consultant, Denis Malbec owns and operates with his wife, May-Britt, “Malbec & Malbec Cellars.” Collectively, the Malbec’s sculpt their own wines at Notre Vin, or www.NotreVin.com, and Aliénor Cellars, or www.AlienorWines.com. For those which the Malbec’s consult, their client-list of wineries evolves incrementally has taken-on select few; for example they include the likes of www.KapcsandyWines.com, www.Blankiet.com and only a handful of others. You can find May-Britt and Denis on Facebook, but neither of them actively participate on Twitter–as of today.

    Interview Series – Click each question below to load it, above.

    » Michel Rolland said of his involvement with Ornellaia “It has fantastic terroir, and is one of the best places for Merlot after Pomerol.” Is there another ideally suited home for Merlot?

    » A fellow winemaker, whom will remain unnamed, is convinced that you dealc[oholize] and wants to know, why?

    » Years ago, Lou Kapcsandy hired NASA to perform a relatively pricey illumination study of his property and evidently has a spare-no-expense attitude toward winemaking. If your client’s money was no object, what would be on your wish list relative your top three acquisitions of equipment?

    » Rosé just looks too easy to make.

    » Henri Jayer said “I prune ruthlessly short. There is no substitute for low yields, and anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves.”

    » Each vineyard that is under your purview is meticulously trellised–the vines look like soldiers standing at attention; nature didn’t intend that. If wine is truly made in the vineyard it’s already 51% man and 49% nature, so the idea of non-manipulative winemaking falls on its face!

    » David Adelsheim mentioned acidity being the “Backbone that hangs the whole wine together. Brings you back for another sip. When you ripen at the end, you keep all of that acidity and the fruit quality remains fresher and livelier.”

    » Your grandfather and father crafted such legendary vintages as ’47, ’59, ’61, ’82. Had they ever described to you what those wines tasted like in their youth?

    » Many claim that today’s Bordeaux are fruit bombs, yet the same claim had been made with regard to those legendary vintages I just mentioned.

    » Steve Heimhoff “…asked Mark Aubert if he could make great wine in Lodi–an appellation not known for great wine–and he[Mark Aubert] answered:” “I could elevate Lodi!” Is there an underperforming plot, vineyard, region or a relatively unknown site which you feel as though you could elevate?

    » At Blankiet and Kapcsandy, Helen Turley preceded you. She had said, and I’ll paraphrase, that you really can’t have a relationship with more than 300 barrels.

    » You said “The key in this is to be a good listener, and observer, and to have an enormous potential of quickly detecting the best of what a specific terroir can give us…” Can we infer that there’s an emphasis on the word “quickly” with respect to the cliché: Time is money?

    » Henry David Thoreau said “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” What do you see that others don’t?

    » Have you ever mistaken a Californian for a Bordeaux when tasting blind, and vice-versa?

    » In the act of tasting wine do you slurp it?

    » Kerry Damskey said “It’s nonsense to believe all of the wines of a consulting winemaker would taste the same…yes, I do use my stylistic criteria–I like wines that are voluptuous, with balanced tannins and beautifully structured–but it’s the nature of wines to reveal the uniqueness of the terroirs from which they’re born. Respect for the site and the client’s vision is critical in wine consulting…”

    » Since you were born and raised in Bordeaux at Chateau Latour, your intimate encounters for example working in the vineyard, taking a break for lunch must have imparted great knowledge, if only overhearing the discussions that ensued

    » Volatile acidity: How does one recognize it, and how does it manifest in wine?

    » You have your master charts, spreadsheets, and evaluate your selections for the final blend down to the decimal point. Could the phenomenon of a single lot of juice, placed into four different barrels of the same cooper, and toasted to the same spec, yet taste totally different exist because the tree itself has imparted its own terroir?

    » If Bordeaux’s method of sales: “En Primeur,” was adopted by California, on balance, would that be a good decision?

    » Due to your pursuit of excellence relative wine, what sacrifices–right now–are you regrettably making?

    » You and May-Britt: Share that story with us