MAAL? What’s with the capital letters, did your shift key get stuck?
No, and I’m not shouting either. MAAL’s an acronym. It stands for Malbec As Alfredo Likes.
Who’s Alfredo and why does he like Malbec so much?
Alfredo Merlo is a young Argentine winemaker who loves Malbec in all its guises and simply wants to make the Malbec the way he likes to drink it. Hailing from Mendoza his vision is to produce unique, elegant and intense wines using only the Malbec grape.
Does he work alone?
No, the MAAL project was born out of a friendship with Matias Fraga, a grape grower, businessman and fellow Malbec nut who teamed up with Alfredo in 2010 to make a micro-vinification of six barrels of wine. The rest is history.
Where does the fruit come from?
All over. In 2010 Matias had a unique opportunity to buy an abandoned Malbec vineyard in an up-and-coming area in the heart of Uco Valley named ‘Vistaflores’. Although the place was in very bad shape, he believed that with patience and hard work he could turn it into one of the iconic vineyards of the area. Grapes also come from Luján de Cuyo, Altamira and Mendoza. All the wines reflect a single vineyard philosophy, enhancing the characteristics that make that vineyard and its location different from others.
As winemaking philosophies go, that’s pretty easy to get on board with.
Absolutely, and it goes hand-in-hand with the MAAL’s four-point winemaking mission:
• Produce only Malbec wines
• That will be expressive and with character
• And that will reflect a balance between
• The soul of a vineyard and the personality of the winemakers
Happy days. Has Alfredo made wine outside of Argentina?
Oh yes. In his quest to understand the secrets of traditional winemaking, he has worked vintages in Napa Valley and New Zealand, as well as working at a handful of Mendoza wineries where he has focussed on quality Malbec production.
And now he’s the Malbec master. You say he only makes wines from Malbec, does this include white wines?
Of course. His Ambiguo wine is a ‘blanc de noir’ made from Malbec grapes. All the other wines in the MAAL range are red, but they all offer something different and unique.
Well, the Biutiful Malbec is designed to show the variety in its purest form with ‘no makeup to distract’. It sees no oak at all, and is fermented in old cement vessels without either adding yeast or correcting acidity. The Biolento Malbec, meanwhile, is un-inoculated, unfiltered and sees minimal SO2 additions in the winery. It’s from a vineyard that’s fertiliser and pesticide free and is made with a huge nod to nature. Then there’s the Bestial Malbec from Vistaflores that’s made from old vines and is super concentrated and bold.
Sounds like an impressive collection of wines. Where can I discover more?
That’s easy; just visit the MAAL Wines website for more info on the wines, the specific vineyard sites and Alfredo and Matias. Or speak to us here at The Knotted Vine.