We love sharing our wines and our favourite parts of our beautiful Kangaroo Island. Our blog shares our team's favourite ways to get the most from your visit when you're exploring Kangaroo Island. And of course we like to share the latest news and wine reviews with you too!
Malbec originated in Jacques' native Bordeaux (and also Cahors) where it primarily played a bit-part in classic Bordeaux blends, never really getting the chance to shine in the spotlight in France. In the late-19th century, phylloxera nearly destroyed the Malbec wine business. The vines eventually recovered, before being later hit by the deadly frosts in the mid-1950s. The variety struggled to return in France until the mid 1970's.
Luckily then, that a French agronomist Michel Aimé Pouget had introduced the variety South America in the mid-1800's, where the variety found its day in the sun in the hot high-altitude Argentinian climate around Mendoza. Malbec finally found its place centre stage as a single varietal, becoming the shining star of Argentinian wine.
In modern day wine, Malbec has travelled all over the world, but Argentina still produces 75% of the world's Malbec & Cahors in France’s south-west the second largest producer.
It found its way to Australia in 1860 where is grows particularly well in South Australia, production is still selective, Malbec represents less than 0.5% of Aussie grape and wine production. In Australia Malbec’s beginnings were as a blending grape, these days a small but growing number of producers are taking inspiration from South America and showing Malbec’s potential as a single varietal.
Jacques Lurton’s relationship with Malbec began in his native France where the variety originated, the love affair really took off when he spent extensive time in South America establishing vineyards in partnership with his brother Francois in Argentina & Chile, experiencing Malbec as the powerhouse of the wine industry there.
As a flying winemaker, he had also spent time in Austalia, seeing how well the variety transferred from the hot high-latitude climate of Argentina to South Australia’s moderate Mediterranean climate. When Jacques set up his own Australian business, The Islander Estate Vineyards on Kangaroo Island he had it planted to use as a blending wine with flagship varieties.
Those plans changed from almost the first vintage, when the quality of his Malbec on Kangaroo Island impressed Jacques so much, he saw it deserved to shine on its own. The Majestic Plough was born as the region’s only single variety Malbec.
The quality continued increase vintage to vintage. Jacques was determined to show the true potential of Malbec on Kangaroo Island, so in 2015 The Islander Estate's flagship wine range was joined by The Independence Malbec – rated as one of the country’s best single variety Malbecs (96 points James Halliday's 2020 Wine Companion).
The Islander Estate Vineyards is the only winery commercially producing Malbec on Kangaroo Island.
Often considered as an alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz, Malbec is a powerhouse wine in its own accord, the most structured and tannic wine we produce on Kangaroo Island.
Malbec is a thick-skinned, purple grape variety with an inky red hue. On Kangaroo Island the vines are low yielding and always the first red variety to be picked at vintage.
In the glass, it has an intense deep red colour, magenta-tinged at the rim. On the nose you’ll find savoury aromas of leather, tobacco, blackberry, dried herbs and spices with plenty of toasty oak.
In the mouth expect big, juicy and plush flavours of dark fruit with a robust structure and moderately firm tannins with natural acidity and a longer finish than you expect from overseas examples.
Malbec loves a lean protein like a good quality steak barbecued over coals (even better with a herb or chimichurri sauce on the side), roast lamb with robust stuffing, roast game like duck or pheasant.
It also loves hard or blue cheeses and sits beautifully alongside charcuterie.
Malbec has great cellaring potential 15+ years if you have the patience!
Get up close The Islander Estate’s Malbec
Devastatingly, the January fire which impacted our Kangaroo Island vineyard has put a stop to our Malbec production for now. Our Majestic Plough is always a small production which sells out before the next vintage is released and we’re down to the last small batch of 2016 Majestic Plough, so grab some now to lay down as we are down to the very last of our stocks.
The Independence Malbec from our Flagship range has just been rated as one of the best in the country by James Halliday with a 96pt rating in the 2020 Wine Companion. Pop this one away and try not to think about it for a few years – it will pay off.
So many wine lovers from all over the world come to spend their precious holiday time with us learning a little about why Kangaroo Island is the world's undiscovered wine treasure.
We miss that connection dearly & can't wait to crack open our best wines for tasting and throw open the door to our Tasting Room. Next time you visit, treat yourself to a Flagship wine tasting.
2. Simple pleasures with family and friends
Finishing a day on KI with fresh fish you've caught yourself is unbeatable. We love doing it with the people we love & a great glass of wine by our side (we recommend our Pinot Gris with local fish).
Our favourite spots for an evening fish? We'll it's hard to beat Snellings Beach on our stunning north coast, Brown Beach on the Dudley Peninsula (if you're lucky for a few flathead) or Emu Bay for a family favourite (park the car up on the beach, open the boot so you have somewhere to rest your wine & cheese platter).
With the cooler seasons coming on, we'll be packing up & heading out with friends with a bottle (or 10) of red and plenty of firewood to get us through the night - in our book the Majestic Plough Malbec is perfect for sharing with friends on cool nights.
Our top Kangaroo Island camping spots? Antechamber Bay campground where you can camp right next to the river & have a stunning beach just a few minutes away. Stokes Bay Campground with the fantastic Rockpool Cafe right next door & one of the best beaches on the Island. Vivonne Bay on the south coast to watch the surf roll in.
With a selection of Kangaroo Island restaurants each showcasing local cuisine in their own unique way & we can't wait to get out & enjoy it with friends again.
Whether its refined cuisine & spectacular views at Sunset Food & Wine, rustic seafood at Rockpool Cafe, high end pub food at the Ozone Hotel, Italian fare at the intimate Bella Cafe or contemporary cuisine in peaceful surrounds at Reflections Restaurant in American River, just to name of few options.
We love heading inland for a walk amongst nature - finished off with a picnic & wine of course! There are so many spectacular inland hikes across the whole Island, many remain open after January's bushfires & the regeneration of bushland will be spectacular as winter progresses.
Or book a weekend away at one of the Island's many nature-based accommodation like our wonderful friends at Ecopia Retreat, where nature is right on your doorstep.
Fires lit all season, stormy walks on the beach, flora & fauna at their peak (& the best season for fishing). Plus, in these quieter seasons it feels almost like the Island is just yours. We'll be inviting friends to reconnect with a weekend (or week) on the Island.
If we're lucky we'll do it at spectacular accommodation like Hamilton & Dune - what a stunning place for long chats, board games & wine by the fire. Pop some local lamb in the slow cooker to simmer all day & pair it with the Old Rowley for a simple but spectacular shared meal.
Kids running wild in the surf, mates downloading news of the week. For Islander's it beats rush hour traffic & crowded bars hands-down.
Our absolute favourite for beach sundowners is The Rose but when even we can't get it, we turn to our other bestie SoFar SoGood Sauvignon Blanc all those tropical fruit notes suit the setting so well. Popular spots include Hog Bay Penneshaw, Island Beach and Emu Bay.
While we're all home cooking right now with our isolation-buddies, there's nothing like spending the whole day preparing a feast for extended family & friends.
It's an act of love that deserves some cracking wines to while away the afternoon (Bark Hut Road hits the spot & pairs with so many dishes). How spectacular is the spot at Lifetime Retreat's The Cliff House?
Don't we miss the simple things? For us picnics need be no further than the lawns of our Tasting Room.
But we also love putting together a picnic of French charcuterie from Les Deux Coq, Alexandrina Fleurieu Peninsula cheeses, local produce & wine for guests (SoFar SoGood Shiraz is our favourite picnic red), then sending them to our team's favourite picnic spots. Just a few minutes away from the Tasting Room in Cygnet River, Duck Lagoon is a great place to start.
Between January's bushfires & the current Coronavirus we're most excited about the prospect of having the full team back together at The Islander Estate Vineyards.
Later in the year we hope to begin welcoming guests back for private barrel room tastings & to see the vineyard rejuvenation. It's a prospect that drives us forward in our mission to make the region's best wines.
For wine lovers, there are many wonderful styles of cellar doors to experience.
When we took the leap to open our Tasting Room it was with a clear vision. We wanted it to be rustic, intimate, simple & most importantly, unassuming. Just time spent chatting with our guests about wine. Sharing stories. Sharing passions. Letting the wine speak for itself.
We want our guests to leave feeling they’ve connected and perhaps learned something new in their personal wine journey.
We can’t wait to start welcoming you back. Many thanks to Gourmet Traveller WINE for the work they do recognising small wineries in these tough times. You've added a smile to our dial.
Having spent the last month on Kangaroo Island assisting the vineyard recovery and crafting wines for bottling, Jacques shares this message of thanks and committment to the region.
The initial 6 weeks following the fire focussed on clean-up of the Estate and ensuring all areas are safe. It has lifted the spirits of our team to have the ruins of the vineyard manager's house and equipment sheds removed, all unsafe trees removed and the cleanup complete.
In more recent weeks we have shifted our focus to preparing the vineyard for potential regeneration. As a first step, amazing local volunteers spent countless hours manually removing the vineyard wiring and irrigation to prepare for the next phase.
They were followed by the incredible organisation that is Team Rubicon Australia, an international disaster response nonprofit that unites the skills and experiences of military veterans and first responders to provide relief to communities in need such as ours.
Working together in military unit style organisation, the team undertook the back-breaking task of cutting the vines thoughout the vineyard to just a few inches above the ground. By removing the burnt cordon and trunks, we allow the roots to focus all its energy on producing shoots for regrowth.
We have such gratitude for the many volunteers whose passion for our business continues to drive us towards recovery.
It will be Spring before we have a firm understanding of the areas of the vineyard that have produced shoots and survived the cold of winter, so we are largely in Mother Natures hands until September. However we see new promise in the vineyard each day.
Jacques has been back on the Kangaroo Island Estate he loves for the past month. In addition to assisting with the work in the vineyard Jacques has been tending to our wines in barrel and tank.
We are pleased to advise that our total wine stock loss was restricted to only 3 barrels (now part of a secret new product development).
All other wines were protected via the action of our team prior to the fires. With blending and bottling of a number of our 2019 vintage releases complete, we are excited to advise a number new wines are in pipeline and we look forward to releasing these over coming months.
Our Discoverer's Wine Club members will have exclusive access to new releases in the April wine club packs and there's still time to join.
For the safety of our staff, families, community & visitors our Tasting Room has closed as of 23rd March. However we welcome pickup orders & we are offering a local delivery service to your doorstep in many areas of Kangaroo Island.
To arrange a pickup order: Simply order online & select the PickUp tab in the checkout screen. We will contact you to arrange a collection time for your order & pop your wine in your boot. You can also order via phone at our Tasting Room (08) 8553 9008.
Local Delivery: For orders of 12 bottles or more we offer a complimentary delivery service to the following locations: Cygnet River, Emu Bay, Kingscote, American River, Island Beach, Penneshaw & other Dudley Peninsula locations. Place your order online or via phone at the Tasting Room.
Our online orders are flowing freely with delivery Australia wide via Australia Post. Please note that new conditions mean that Australia Post will only leave orders on your doorstep, no signatures will be collected for proof of delivery. When ordering, please add a note letting us know a safe place where Australia Post can leave your wine.
We are currently preparing some extra special packs for our most valued customers, our Discoverer's Wine Club members. Our April wine packs are expected to be despatched early next week & will be delivered by Australia Post as usual. There is still time to join the club, sign up online by Friday 27th March.
View through the bush-vine Shiraz to the pine forest beyond before the 10th January 2020 fire.
The same bush-vine Shiraz view post fire.
Summer 2019/2020 has seen the most devastating fire season Kangaroo Island has even known. Major fires, sparked by dry lightening strikes, began burning on Kangaroo Island mid-December. On January 3rd storms sparked new bushfires on the western end of the Island, the extreme weather conditions created a firestorm which burnt approx 30% of the western end of the Island including the Flinders Chase National Park several wilderness areas. On January 10th strong winds fanning existing firegrounds caused a second firestorm which pushed the fires east and north to claim a total of 48% and over 210,000 hectres of the Island.
This second fire, fuelled by nearby commercial pine plantations and the stunning Parndana Conservation area bordering The Islander Estate Vineyards property, caused the loss of our entire 280-hectare property including the farm, 11-hectare vineyard, vineyard equipment, irrigation, offices, wine lab, sheds, housing and water sources. The destruction also claimed the property’s 80 hectares of pristine remnant native bush and 150 hectares of cropping land.
View from the vineyard gate across the property pre-fire The same view post-fire Former offices & wine lab Vineyard manager's residence
A first step currently underway is to remove damaged irrigation and wiring from the vines to clear the way for any live vines to be cut back at ground level to encouraging new shoots before winter.
Like most fire-impacted wine businesses, we will not have a 2020 vintage but within the next few months, we fully expect to have plans in place for vintage 2021 and beyond.
All of our wine stocks have been preserved and our business is operating as normal from a sales perspective.
Continued support from our customers is critical to providing the financial resources to keep our staff engaged and to begin building towards recovery.
We will be undertaking a bottling in the new few weeks, which will ensure we have a continued supply of the majority of our most popular wines.
Our cellar door at Cygnet River was unaffected by the fire and is operating at its regular hours, 6 days a week, noon to 5pm (closed Wed).
The Cygnet River Artisan Trail has been untouched by fire and is a fantastic place to spend an afternoon supporting local wine, spirit, food and art producers.
Our online sales are flowing smoothly, sending orders Australia wide to our many wonderful customers & supporters.
Our Discoverer's Wine Club continues to grow and provide our most valued customers with excellent value and access to our limited and new releases.
The Estate's cropping land merging with remnant native bush pre-fire Post fire in the same spot
Some significant steps have already been made towards recovery, and we could not have taken these without an immemse amount of support from so many sources, some official, some unofficial, from friends, from neighbours, from volunteers and from total strangers who have offered to assist us along the way.
Thanks to the Australian Defence Force personnel who undertook so much of the clean up and heavy work of tree felling immediately following the fire when we were still in shock. They continue to assist us today in the vineyard. To Blazeaid and their volunteers who are helping so many to reestablish critical fencing across the Island.
To our neighbours, friends and families too numerous to mention but you know who you are and we have immense gratitude for your support.
To the fellow winemakers who have stepped in to actively help us assess the vineyard and offer us their resources: Mike Brown and the Gemtree team, Toby Bekkers from Bekkers Wines, Martin, Adam, Murray and the Shaw and Smith team.
While it will take some time to determine the future of our vineyard, one thing is in no doubt. We are more passionate and determined than ever to produce unique wines which show the true potential of Kangaroo Island as an emerging wine region.
We know the recovery effort will be huge and it will take a number of years for our small team to return to full production, but like all Kangaroo Islander’s we are resilient and resourceful, so the only way to move is forward.
The support from our customers in the form of kind words, messages of support and orders spurs us forward. So please come visit us on Kangaroo Island, bring your friends and family, drop into our cellar door for a tasting, visit our neighbours on the intimate Cygnet River Artisan Trail. We look forward to welcoming you.