A short history of Malbec at Woodlands – by David Watson

Written by Woodlands founder David Watson.

I grew up in Belmont in the early 1960’s, and our next door neighbour was Len Ives. Len used to have barbeques featuring his home grown chooks, and as neighbours our family were always invited to come over. Len was a great mate of Jack Mann, legendary winemaker at Houghton, who used to come over with some Chablis (Chenin Blanc with ice blocks in it, or half cut with water). Jack’s son’s Dorham, Tony and Bill also came along.

At one barbeque Jack saw I was interested in wine, and invited me to visit Houghton at vintage time. On the visit Jack gave me a burgundy-shaped half bottle of Malbec, and that’s where we really started our wine journey.

Jack famously said the Cabernet was the only grape allowed in Heaven, but Malbec came a close second. We purchased a lot of the half bottles – probably at a dollar each. The taste was quite strongly developed – no new oak – distinctive and always beautifully balanced.

We planted Malbec at Woodlands in 1974, sourced from cuttings I took at Sandalford in the Swan Valley. Dorham Mann, by now winemaker at Sandalford,  said that the source of their planting was originally Houghton. All Woodlands Malbec is propagated from these original cuttings.

We first bottled Malbec separately in 1993 when Dorham said it was so good we should go for it! Subsequently, our good friend Ian McDonagh loved the wine so much that he asked me to make a barrel every year for him, and so the “McDonagh” Malbec was born. In 2002 this wine took on the name “Reserve du Cave” before our grammar was corrected by a French chap to “Reserve de la Cave”.

If you would like to add some Woodlands Brook Malbec to your cellar, please follow the link below.

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