We’re delighted to announce that we have appointed Malu Lambert as our ‘boots in the vineyard’ advocate of all things South Africa.
Not only will Malu be curating engaging and enchanting content for our social media channels and articles, but she also lives in South Africa, and will ensure that Museum Wines cements its position as the first word in South African wine and undisputed leading specialist in the UK.
Appointing Malu as Head of Content will further this cause. For me, the Wines of South Africa have been those which have come the furthest during my career in the industry. When I started I had little interest in them as I found them homogenous and more often than not, pretty poor quality. Whereas now some of the wines being produced can stand shoulder to shoulder with the very best in the world and can compete at a global level. It’s no longer “that’s good for a South African wine” but “that’s a great wine – full stop”.
We have some of the best wines the country is producing in our portfolio and the SA offering is so complacent in most places there’s a massive opportunity and gap in the market. The increase in demand for South African wine, especially fine wines, is incredibly exciting and the feedback we’re getting from those customers is that the offering elsewhere lacks inspiration.
I think the thing that strikes me most at the moment is value. You can’t buy Burgundy or Chardonnay from Australia or USA for under £25 that competes with SA equivalents. That goes for Syrah, Cab and Pinot Noir as well. Also, the innovation within South Africa is amazing. The Cinsault revolution, MCC that embarrasses Champagne, making white Field Blends commercially viable and establishing themselves as THE country for Cabernet Franc as a single cultivar. Nowhere else in the world has the guts to do that in the way South Africa has. Disregarding tradition, embracing innovation.
I fell in love with the country on my first visit in 2016 but I think that was cemented on my third trip, in January 2019. Rather than visiting on a buying trip with the intention of finding new wines we simply went to spend time with the people we had already been working with and importing from, though in some instances we’d never met them. Spending time with the people behind the wines and seeing their passion first hand adds another dimension to my approach to selling them. Whether that’s experiencing a Rob Armstrong G&T (served in a pint glass!), witnessing Alex Milner’s determination to braai amidst torrential rain or a quick visit to Holden Manz turning into a seven hour lunch – it’s the people who make the place.
And with that, please meet – Malu
Malu is an award-winning wine writer; she won the title of Emerging Wine Writer of the Year at Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards 2019. She also won the Veritas Young Wine Writer in 2015. She writes for numerous titles both in South Africa and abroad. Malu is also currently a WSET Diploma student and loves nothing more than to geek-out about wine.
From Malu: “I fell in love with wine when I worked as a waiter to pay for my journalism studies; this saw me going overseas at one point where I worked in a high-end London restaurant. Every Friday we tasted wines from all over the world at “Table 17”, and soon I not only fell in love with wine itself, but also the story-telling aspect of it.
Bottled in every wine, is a lost summer, hopes and dreams of human endeavour and, of course, the story of the very soil itself. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that?”
On an average day you’ll find Malu enjoying a plate of oysters and a bottle of icy Chenin Blanc. Or, going from cobwebby cellar to cobwebby cellar tasting wines out of the barrel with winemakers while listening to their stories.
Her current obsession is old vine semillon and semillon gris from Franschhoek, the latter a rarity largely unique to the Cape. “The wines are all about texture. Locked in every grape is the potential to go gris, noir or blanc, though it is very rare,” shared Malu.
“In the early 1800s it’s said that 80 per cent of the vines in South Africa were thought to be sémillon. By the mid- 1800s half of this had mutated into red sémillon. The guess is that the secret to its dual nature may lie somewhere in between our sun – the white-skinned sémillon mutated to protect itself – as well as of a result of old vines; vines generally need to be around 30-years-old before they start switching to red.
You see? She’s got stories.