John Malkovich: ‘I know what I like, and I do what I like’
The actor on wine-making in Provence, a love of pinot noir and why he couldn't name his wine Dangerous Liaisons
While he may not make the wine, John Malkovich is very involved in the project
On a warm, sunny day last summer I sat down to a three-hour lunch and wine tasting with John Malkovich. It couldn’t be described as a boozy session; he was performing eight times a week on the London stage and didn’t drink and barely ate. We tasted five wines from the Malkovich estate in Provence, now available in Ireland.
I don’t have a huge experience of interviewing stars, but Malkovich and his partner, film director Nicoletta Peyran, were very good company, relaxed and interesting – the opposite of the stereotypical self-obsessed celebrity. I am usually wary of celebrity wines, as many rely on the name rather than quality of the wine, but the Malkovich wines were very good and very individual too.
Malkovich doesn’t make the wine, leaving that to consultant winemaker Jean Natoli and Swiss-Irish manager Ralph Högger. He and Peyran bought the 10-hectare (24.7 acre) estate in the 1980s to bring up their children somewhere rural, and only decided to plant grapes in 2008. Less than half is under vine. It is in one of the cooler parts of the Luberon (locals call it the Petite Siberia, according to Högger) with big temperature fluctuations, perfect conditions for certain grapes. The first commercial release was in 2018.
While he may not make the wine, Malkovich is very involved in the project. He decided on the idiosyncratic choice of grapes; pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon, not varieties you often see planted together, let alone blended as with one of the wines.
“I decided what to plant; the idea came from an article given to me by a wine connoisseur that said in Louis XV’s day, in our region, only pinot noir should be grown. I like pinot and I like cabernet, more than grenache or syrah which they generally grow there.”
Apparently they thought about calling the blend Dangerous Liaisons, but that was quickly dropped. He prefers the richer Californian Pinot Noirs, “so we make it in that style. I know what I like, and as with anything I do, I do what I like”.
Högger later confirms this: “They are always there for final blends, and I am in touch with them on an almost daily basis. They have a very clear view of what they want and are very committed.”
Malkovich also designed the labels. As for the five wines, they are very good, ranging in price from €20 to €60. These are wines with character and real interest, the sort that grow on you with every sip. They are possibly not to everyone’s taste. But then I suspect, Malkovich would be happy with that. I also include two wines from Sting and Trudie Styler’s estate in Tuscany, Högger’s previous project.
LQLC 2019 Les Quelles de la Coste rosé, Vaucluse
A very delicious rosé with crisp nervy acidity, balanced perfectly by clean subtle strawberry fruits and a fine long dry finish. Drink it by itself, with a salade Niçoise or grilled chicken kebabs.
From Power & Co Fine Wines, Lucan, power-wine.com; Red Island Wine Co Skerries; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth, elywinebar.ie; SIYPS.ie; Mitchell & Son, Dublin 1, Sandycove, and Avoca, Kilmacanogue and Dunboyne, mitchellandson.com; Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Dublin 2, Kells, Co Meath and Galway, sheridanscheesemongers.com; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, Co Dublin, blackrockcellar.com; Wicklow Wine Co, Wicklow, wicklowwineco.ie.
LQLC NV Les 7 Quelles rouge, Vaucluse
Pale in colour, with maturing herby sous bois, light cherry fruits, good acidity and a lightly grippy finish. Very enjoyable with food; serve cool with a herby roast of lamb or Provençal daube.
From Power & Co Fine Wines, Lucan, Power-wine.com; Red Island Wine Co. Skerries; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth, elywinebar.ie; SIYPS.ie; Mitchell & Son, Dublin 1, Sandycove, and Avoca, Kilmacanogue & Dunboyne, mitchellandson.com; Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Dublin 2, Kells, Co Meath, Galway, sheridanscheesemongers.com; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Red Nose Wines, Clonmel, rednosewine.com; Nelly’s, D14; The Wicklow Wine Co Wicklow, wicklowwineco.ie
When We Dance 2018, Chianti, Tenuta Il Palagio, Organic
A very seductive medium-bodied wine, smooth with elegant ripe red cherry fruits and a soft easy finish. Try it with roast or grilled chicken.
From Boutiquewines.ie; Grape & Bean, Portlaoise, Grapeandbean.ie; Barnhill Stores, Dalkey, Barnhillstores.ie; Morton’s, Dublin 6, mortons.ie; Molloys Liquor Store, Clonsilla; The Wine House, Trim; 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.com; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; SIYPS.ie; Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Dublin 2, Kells, Co Meath, Galway, sheridanscheesemongers.com; Stationtostationwine.ie; Mitchell & Son, Dublin 1, Sandycove, and Avoca, Kilmacanogue & Dunboyne, mitchellandson.com; Eleven Deli, Greystones, Elevendeli.ie; Brother Hubbard South, D8, Brotherhubbard.ie; Emilie’s, Glenbeigh, Kerry; Pat FitzPatrick’s, Dingle, Co Kerry
Message in a Bottle 2018, Vermentino Toscana (Organic)
A lively refreshing crisp white with very attractive light peaches, a touch of orange peel and a long dry finish. Drink solo or with summery vegetable and herb risotto or pasta.
From Boutiquewines.ie; Grape & Bean, Portlaoise, Grapeandbean.ie; Barnhill Stores, Dalkey, Barnhillstores.ie; Morton’s, Dublin 6, mortons.ie; Molloy’s Liquor Store, Clonsilla; The Wine House, Trim; 64wine, Brother Hubbard South, D8, Brotherhubbard.ie; Emilie’s, Glenbeigh, Kerry; Pat FitzPatrick’s, Dingle, Co Kerry