What’s in a name?
“Rainbow’s End” is the name of the Malan family’s wine estate near Stellenbosch. It is a name that conjures up associations, and among these are the divine promise of sunshine after rain, of commitment to the earth, of a destination and a pot of gold.
With the launch of its maiden vintage – Rainbow’s End Shiraz 2002 – the estate began to live up to these expectations.
The promise of Rainbow’s End is in its fertility and climate. Situated on high-lying slopes, rising to 540m above sea level, the estate backs on to the Jonkershoek Mountain and overlooks the prized and productive Banghoek basin, which is encircled by mountains.
Experts have affirmed the potential of the land to produce wines that can compete internationally. Promise implies the commitment and care to make it all come true. Working with the soil, the rain and the sunshine, Jacques and his family planted and nurtured 22 hectares of vineyards. The order of the trellised rows of vines takes its cue from the lie of the land and the picture is of patterns of green in harmony with the slopes and curves of the landscape.
It has required perseverance and a dream. At the age of 57 Jacques took the plunge, left his practice and started thinking seriously about making wine. Guidance and encouragement came just at the right time – from a French source.
During the 2000 season, Jacques planted his first vines, whilst son Anton had worked in the vineyards and cellar of Olivier Laporte, of Chateau Croix Beausejour, at Montagne St. Emilion. Repaying the visit, Olivier spent some days at Rainbow’s End and encouraged Jacques to forget about the need for large investment and to adapt and make do with what he had. With that they decided they could renovate an existing building and use a cellar under the house for fermentation and maturation. That’s how they started.
After the promise and the commitment comes the end and that is to produce a limited amount of estate wines competitive with the best in the world. The striving is for well balanced wines with their own style and character drawn from the unique gifts of Rainbow’s End. Varieties include Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec.
Anton , the cellar master and marketer and brother Francois, the viticulturist and winemaker take part in the various phases of production. The Malans have adopted a combination of traditional and new-world wine-making techniques. Bunch selection, picking at dawn, sorting and plunging in open fermenters are all operations that are scrupulously done by hand, as well as light basket pressing. During the processing the wine is aged in small French oak barrels.
And the pot of gold?
The maiden 2002 Shiraz vintage, made from vines only 18 months old, won a silver medal at the South African Young Wine show and the 2004 vintage a gold medal, thereafter followed a clutch of awards and medals. It makes for confidence that all the elements of fertility and effort have come together in final success as surely as the estate lies in the embrace of the rainbow.