In the early 1990’s, we worked with Malbec as a blending component in our Cabernet Sauvignon. Then we discovered Cahors wine, which is essentially made of Malbec, on a family vacation in France. When we returned, we thought it would be interesting to make a Malbec wine.
Our interest in a Malbec blend paralleled a desire by our patrons for a second Hafner red wine. It was the perfect confluence of our interest, our patrons’ appetite and our vineyard’s yield.
After tasting small lots of our Malbecs over many years, we felt that it was improved by the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. We want the character of the Malbec grape to be the dominant component of the Next Red, with the Petit Verdot adding dark color and the Cabernet adding richness and body. Cabernet has a more significant tannin profile that gives structure while Malbec is softer and rounder in the mouth.
Everything about the Malbec grape is bigger than Cabernet: Malbec has a more vigorous canopy; its leaves are larger; its berries are much bigger than the Cabernet and it generates more tons per acre. It also ripens earlier than Cabernet. That being said, it does not produce a “bigger” style wine. Malbec is fruit-forward with aromas of cola, blueberries and picholine olives. Cabernet, in comparison, is more refined and elegant with characteristics of cassis, violets and mint.
Each year the blend of these three varietals is slightly different. Based on a series of tastings, our goal is to produce a wine that is distinct and easy to enjoy. The Next Red highlights the bright fruit aromas of sweet cola, violets and blueberries with notes of chocolate, vanilla and coffee beans. Softer on the palate and more user friendly than the Cabernet, the Next Red is released in September when it has four years of age.
Patrons often ask how long the Next Red will age. We began making Next Red in 2004, and it’s still quite youthful. We expect the Next Red to age as long as our Cabernets…well into their 15th year and perhaps beyond.