Through MAAL Wines, winemaker Alfredo Merlo is showing the world the style of Malbec wine he enjoys making and drinking.
Established in 2013, MAAL Wines is a collaborative effort born from a friendship nourished by a common passion for winemaking, viticulture, and Malbec by Alfredo Merlo and Matias Fraga.
Their mission is to produce only Malbec wines that are expressive, have character and are a balance of the soul of a vineyard and the personality of the winemakers.
I had the opportunity to chat with Alfredo Merlo to learn more his journey to MAAL Wines, his approach to winemaking and his aspirations for the future.
To learn more, read our interview below.
Nelson Gerena (NG): What is the significance of the name MAAL Wines?
Alfredo Merlo (AM): Maal stands for: Malbec As Alfredo Likes. When we started this project with Matias, we agreed that we would only make wines the way we would like to drink them, no matter what trends or consumer research said.
NG: You’ve worked harvest in Napa, New Zealand and around Mendoza. From those experiences, what is the single most important thing you’ve learned that has influenced your approach to winemaking?
AM: TEAM WORK. In a small winery there are no more than a dozen people that somehow participate in making a bottle of wine. Every one of them leaves a mark in the wine, so working together and letting yourself learn from each of them is essential. I see my job as simply guiding my team into the direction I think is the correct one.
NG: What motivated you to work only with Malbec at MAAL Wines?
AM: I prefer not to handle more than one grape at the time, and Malbec has always been my favorite one. I admire winemakers that can produce at the same time a Cab, a Sauvignon blanc or a Tempranillo. If I want to do the best Malbec I can, I really need to be focused only in that. It’s been almost 10 years now making only Malbec, and I think I’m just starting to understand its timing, its moments and its needs.
NG: How would you describe MAAL Wines in 5 words or less?
AM: Malbec As Alfredo Likes!
NG: Music is also another passion of yours. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
AM: I consider myself a “frustrated” musician. I’ve tried and failed with several instruments, until I began to discover the joy of simply listening to music. With time I started getting involved in other aspects of music such as organizing live shows and helping bands in production. The new winery we are building will be designed to host small live shows and different sorts of music events. I’m even considering having a small recording studio in the winery.
NG: Does music influence your winemaking in any way? And if so, can you please explain how?
AM: Winemaking can sometimes be a bit lonely… maybe that’s why I like it so much… 😉 and music is always my company during those times. I don’t like wineries that sound like museums, so there is always music playing at the winery.
I really think that my mood during winemaking has a clear impact on my wines, and music has a big influence on my mood. So for me there is a direct connection between music and my wines.
NG: What has been the most challenging aspect of building MAAL Wines over the past 9 years?
AM: Staying true to our values. Since day one we agreed with Matias on three things: We only make Malbec, We only sell what we make, We only make what we like. There have been many moments where sticking firm to these values was not in the best economic interest of MAAL. Surviving those times and maintaining direction has many times not been easy.
NG: What are your hopes for the future of MAAL Wines?
AM: Well, quite simple. To make a decent living making wine just the way I like too.
NG: Whats coming on your horizon that you’re most excited about?
AM: Until now we are renting a winery to make our wines. But by March next year, for 2020 harvest, we should have our own winery ready for the first harvest, at least with the basics. This is the dream we always had with Matias. Not just our own wines, but our own winery.
From 28 year vines in Vistaflores West, Tunuyan, Mendoza, this wine has a beautiful nose of black fruit, chocolate and spice. On the palate, the wine is bold yet refreshing with flavors that match the nose. The finish is generous and complex.
A delicious wine! Enjoy now or hold.
Bilento comes from a 95-year-old organically farmed vineyard. According to Alfredo, the ants at the vineyard are particularly aggressive. The name bilento is a tribute to his “bio” friendly approach to farming and the violent nature of the ants found at the vineyard.
Pronounced flavors of dark ripe fruit and chocolate with hints of herbs and spice make for a complex and delicious palate that is complimented by smooth tannins and a long finish. Enjoy now.