WINE OF THE WEEK #122
are you ready for the real deal?
are you ready to taste with me the real malbec?
are you ready to talk about old, rustic, classic stuff?
I am, sort off… with the 2006, AOC Cahors from Chateau du Cèdre in hand.
This wine, or at least this region, is the main reason why this month is all about Malbec. Cahors is the birth place of Malbec, and a couple of months ago, one of the wines from this region completely changed my view on “the perfect wine”.
I guess it is the first time that I had to admit to myself that not all heavy and full bodied wines were “bad”, and that my palate does not agree to be served these kind of wines.
So, what makes Cahors so special?
Cahors, south of the Bordeaux region, is located around the river Lot, which is a branch of the Garonne river. (Bordeaux - left bank)
On both sides of the river you have the valley where the vineyards are called “les coteaux”, with sand and gravel as a soil. Further away from the river, and at a higher altitude, are secondary plateaus called “les causses” with a limestone soil. On both soil types, a lot of Malbec (and some Merlot and Tannat) is planted and they still haven’t figured out yet if the best wines come from “les coteaux” or “les causses”. Malbec just needs a lot of sunshine to fully ripen, but it can produce both powerful (causses) and elegant (coteaux) wines. And that might be why I was triggered to try more of Cahors.
So in Cahors, a lot of it comes down to the winemaker, and how he blends/copes with the 2 soil types. But one thing is for sure: Cahors are dark wines, black wines, difficult wines. If you are like me and like to drink your wines in the same year that you have bought them, Cahors might not be the smartest choice. Be sure it has at least 7+ years of age.
Let’s try one from 2006!
(a side note : the wine has been on my desk for 2 days now in a carafe. I close it off with plastic foil if I’m not tasting - let the beast breathe! )
What did I tell you. This wine is like ink. I feel like writing a story with it, so let’s start with the nose.
This is a nose that I don’t have that often here on my blog. It is very old world, and smells like an expensive Bordeaux wine. Up front, I get menthol and chocolate. Menthol tells me 2 things : typical for the grape variety, and will integrated oak. Chocolate … is chocolate.
Next to these first 2 notes, there’s something very specific coming out the glass. The best way to describe it is “energy”. The ingredients are, in random order : steamed beetroot, rhubarb, compote, seaweed and dried leaves. The fact that I cannot separate these flavors is a good sign, because it means that every aspect of the wine is well integrated.
Do I like this nose? Yes and no. I like its specific character, which is fantastic, but to my personal taste, it lacks a wink - a sparkle - a smile.
The attack is soft, the tannins are still nice and grippy, … euh … very grippy … my god they grip!
Lucky for you, the wine has enough acidity to battle the tannins, but beware to eat a juicy steak with this kind of wine.
The flavor in the mouth is good but rather one-dimensional : black cherries are what comes to mind.
There is not much of an evolution after one glass, but after several sips and a refill or two, you really start to taste chocolate again.
It might be because I’m used to young wines with high acidity, but I really struggled to taste this Cahors. It was rustic, old fashioned, and it survived 6 days in my carafe, without really showing much evolution. That’s a first.
On the other hand, it has been very intriguing to taste the same wine over and over again during 6 days, and the wine allowed me to get a better understanding about Malbec.
But at the end of the day, this wine lacks drinkability and something fun, and I believe that it can stay sophisticated and rustic at the same time.
Another silver medal…
Theme of the month - MALBEC - June 2013
Hey ho Tumblrz,
last month was one of the more difficult months in a while. The Italian whites, where all of them but one did not deliver the goods like a fine wine should, disappointed me a bit. On the other hand, the fact that I didn’t find what I was looking for makes me even more curious to discover them.
Often when you look too hard, you don’t find what you are looking for, and sometimes, when you are not looking at all, something hits you by surprise. This happened to me a couple of months ago in a wine bar in Brussels.
We, my family in law and myself, were having a well deserved afterwork drink. We were buying wines by the bottle and I could take the first pick. I chose a Riesling from Alsace : Vincent Fleith, Riesling Steinweg 2008, which happened to be an excellent choice. After this dry Riesling, we wanted to go for a red wine, and I tend to like lighter red wines a lot (think Pinot Noir, Gamay, Barbera, reds from Loire, …), but my father in law is very focused towards more heavy hitters - even inky wines like Madiran. So we tried to meet in the middle and went for an old Cahors : Domaine Cosse Maisonneuve, Les Laquets 2004. I heard that Cahors, which is 100% Malbec, is often a very difficult and heavy wine, so I hoped that the age would bring some elegance and subtle flavors. I took my first sip and I was completely blown away! And 5 minutes after this revelation, I could once again erase all my preconceptions about the wines I like.
So my next line-up is a reality check for me, to see if I really like Malbec or not. I’ve picked 2 wines are from the South-West of France, one Cahors and one vin de pays. And I will compare these 2 old world wines with 2 answers from the new world, more precisely from Argentina, where Malbec has found a new home.
From left to right, you see:
Fabien Jouves - Omar m’a abuser, vin de pays Sud-Ouest (NV) €16
Viniterra - Select Malbec 2008, Mendoza Argentina €14,90
Chateau du Cèdre - AOC Cahors 2006 €13,50
Alamos - Selección Malbec 2010, Mendoza Argentina €8
I can’t wait to start!
See you soon,
WINE (&FOOD) OF THE WEEK #115
Ready for some more food-talk?
The main course of our fantastic evening amongst food and wine lovers and bloggers was absolutely a masterpiece.
Pieter from Culinarty.be had prepared a complex dish with Peking duck or “Canard laqué” as the main ingrediënt. What makes the duck so complex is the top layer of spices, honey, pepper and salt.
Next to the duck were incredibly delicious polenta cakes (with Italian herbs and parmeggiano added to the polenta), a fantastic puree of beetroot, green asparagus and turnip rolls.
At first, I was a bit overwhelmed by all the flavors and I had no clue wine wise. A little deconstruction of the dish helped me out:
- obviously, we cannot go around the duck. A lovely peace of meat : tender, juicy and fine. I could pair a lot of delicate wines with low tannins with the duck, like a nice pinot noir, a Beaujolais cru, or maybe even an earthy Barbera. But, the spicy honey cover makes it a lot more difficult. A stronger body, maybe some residual sugar, and especially a herbal wine are needed. An older wine from the Douro region immediately came to mind, because of the typical sweet ginger bread flavors that I like so much.
- the baked polenta with parmeggiano adds structure and body to the dish, making it again more difficult for a fragile wine to pair with the dish. Pinot noir isn’t an option anymore
- last but not least, we have a lot of earthy flavors : beetroot, turnip and asparagus. So I tend to look for stinky wines, earthy, and probably old world.
I stumbled in my wine collection on 2 wines that would match the dish in my opinion:
The first wine is cuvée Les Perruches 2009 from Pascal Lambert, a biodynamic wine maker in Chinon, Loire, France.
This 100% cabernet franc wine is very old world, with some menthol, herbs and licorice, combined with an undeniable elegance and acidity. The fresh cherry and “green” notes of cabernet franc are a very fun match with the pepper and sweet notes of the duck. This wine made our table very silent, and I would score this wine certainly a gold medal!
The second choice is Duorum 2010 from the Douro Valley, a red blend of Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz.
This wine also showed a combination of red fruit, licorice and some nice minerality. The wine was juicy, herbal and very enjoyable, but the style bothered me a bit. As a result of a new and modern wine making project in Portugal, the wine tasted very much like a new world wine. The dish however, asked for something more old and rustic.
So, love the wine, but I am going for a silver medal.
Again, this one was a very difficult and tough choice,
and I would like to know from you what wine you would pair with peking duck, permesan polenta cakes and beetroot/turnips/asparagus.
Thx for leaving a comment,
WINE OF THE WEEK #096
Great news, I just got married!
To celebrate the ring around my finger, I’ve opened a rather special wine for you today.
It’s a wine from the Tissot winery in the Jura region in France, AOC Arbois - Chardonnay 2010.
Tissot is a legend amongst wine nerds, because they make all their wines in a natural way and have a very wide range of wines : from whites and reds to the typical “vin jaune” wines. Vin Jaunes are oxidated, funky and strong white wines that are the guilty pleasure with all kind of cheeses. If you’ve never tried it, just buy yourself a bottle of vin jaune and a box of cheeses and lock yourself into your room for a day .. or two.
To me, if somebody says “Jura”, I always think of cheese, and hippies. Not all the wines are as funky as a vin jaune, but there is always something very special happening. Wine love is always in the air, and the region so far remains untouched by marketing, money and business. That means that Jura wines are not very present on the market, but this “underground” position leaves a lot of liberty for the wine makers, and most of the time, the experiments pay off.
There are only 8000 bottles made from this wine, grown on clay and limestone soils. Grapes are grown biodynamically, they are all handpicked and the wine has not been touched during fermentation and the aging process. So, it should be as pure as it can be, but due to the low yields, I’m afraid the wine is still too young and will be overpowered by the acidity. I’ve heard it’s better to keep this wine for a year or 10 before drinking.
But there’s only one way to find out…
The wine looks like a normal wine, but with 3 drops of orange in it. I love the bronze shades, and the clean look.
As I expected, the nose on this wine is very unique.
Think of ripe apples, date (the fruit) and orange blossom.
It also shows some smokey flavors, like a very soft whiskey.
I’ve got the feeling the mouthfeel is a little off. I don’t know why, but the flavors are not “fresh”. I can taste everything there was on the nose, but it feels like there is some fish skin involved… and that’s not what I like.
If I look at the wine from a rational point of view, I think the wine has great balance, and is very fun to drink. Acidity and alcohol are very well measured.
Strangely enough, the wine shows a lot of herbs on the finish. Especially oregano, and it’s a very complex animal.
I think I might just have had a “bad” bottle (or the wine is going through a “non-drinkable” phase) because there are some notes that I find really out of place, but all in all, I am very intrigued by the complexity of the Arbois and I am sure that this is the wine to serve when you have a cheese plate. The herbs, the smoked flavors, the dried fruit. That should be a home run with a slice of manchego.
As a wine nerd, I am going for silver, but as a consumer, I’m not happy that the wine merchant did not tell me this wine is too young to drink.
WINE OF THE WEEK #095
let’s just cut the crap about Chardonnay. If there is one place on earth where you will find the best glass of Chardonnay, then it must be Burgundy.
Burgundy includes more ‘affordable’ regions like Chablis or Macon, but there are also AOC’s like Puligny-Montrachet or Chassagne-Montrachet where prices can go up a notch or 2.. or 3 … or 10…
Today, I hope I’ve found a wine that has the soul of a good white Burgundy, without the price tag.
It’s the 2010 AOC Bourgogne from Domaine Vincent-Dureuil-Janthial for €15,95.
The Dureuil-Janthial family is rather famous amongst their neighbors, because they have been making wine for centuries, and more recently switched their vineyards towards organic wine growing. A way of approaching wine making that we see more and more in Burgundy. And that’s a good thing!
What is bad about Burgundy is the complexity of the region. Every slope on a hill, or every piece of land is divided into a multitude of parcels and AOC’s. A normal winery, like Dureuil-Janthial makes wines in 20 different AOC’s. So it’s difficult to sketch a general picture.
But, the sheet of this wine tells me that the grapes are from 40 year old vines in a small plot ( called “La Combe” ) within the Puligny-Montrachet area!! It just does not hold the AOC of Puligny-Montrachet because that’s a privilege for only the best plots in the area.
That’s why the AOC of this wine is ‘only’ “AOC Bourgogne”
The typical soil for Puligny-Montrachet is clay and limestone. Or from a flavor perspective : something greasy and something fresh.
Let’s see if I’m right!
The wine looks like white wine, no tones towards pale yellow or amber. It’s just a nice straw yellow…until you start swirling around. The wine becomes heavier, legs are forming and you can just see that there will be a lot of flavor and material.
That’s what I like!
Yes, it’s got that Burgundy pedigree!
The typical yellow fruit punch of citrus, pineapple and yellow apples is surrounded by something I call “Burgundy fat”.
I can describe “Burgundy fat” in 2 ways:
- Marinated honey. Imagine you take the marinade of a nice BBQ steak and just add a lot of honey. Instead of the “bitterness” of the spices (laurel, thyme, …) you get the same rich smell, but sweeter and softer.
- White resin. Resin can smell very “orange” to me. Just take out that woody smell, and you get something I would call “white resin”.
As the appearance predicted, this wine is solid.
You can chew on it, bite it, slurp on it or just drink it, it will not fall apart.
Everything I want is here. The fruit on the nose is given a nice punch of acidity so you get a lot of fresh flavors.
The more heavy note, or Burgundy Fat, gives the mouthfeel a nice cushion with soft herbs.
And if that was not enough, there is a nice minerality as well. Just a hint of magic dust is left behind on your tongue after you’ve taken a sip.
The wine is at it’s best in your mouth. There is not a big evolution going on, the more greasy aspects just take over and the wine slowly fades out. It would be an epic bottle if the finish could have shown an extra surprise, but I am just getting way too picky here.
This wine is fantastic. It comes at a price, but is a wonderful example of what Chardonnay can bring to your glass.
BORDEAUX - A new direction?
it’s a shame that my mission as an ambassador for Bordeaux wines this year has come to an end. With 2 trips to the region and a lot of tastings and events under the belt, I got a better idea about where Bordeaux is standing, and where it may surprise you in the future.
So let me share you my thoughts after a fantastic year:
1. Forget about China and the cru classé wines.
When people write about Bordeaux wines, or find movies on youtube, they always talk about chinese investors buying up “all” the wines and about how “expensive” Bordeaux wines are. That’s just silly.
What they really talk about is 3% of the wines produced in Bordeaux. I just look at those 3% as something else. It has everything to do with money, and nothing to do with wine. To me, they could be selling perfume or cars just as well. These top 3% is not a product of nature, it’s a currency.
Just check out this video!
2. Dare to buy a Bordeaux wine
To discover “the other 97%” of Bordeaux wines, I encourage you for once to go to your wine shop with a €10 bill and ask for a Bordeaux wine from an AOC or subregion you don’t know.
I hear you saying : “Why would I do that?!”
Well, there are so many unknown AOC’s in Bordeaux where really good wines are made. And unknown often means affordable and in Bordeaux, and interesting at the same time. It makes no sense to buy a €30 AOC Margaux, when you can buy a super delicious €12 AOC Sainte-Foy de Bordeaux. But I guess you’ll never have heard of Sainte-Foy de Bordeaux. So, just try it for once and tell me what you think.
3. Pink & White
If you want to take less risks but still discover something new, a rosé or clairet wine from Bordeaux is always a good call. I really appreciate the acidity and structure of the rosé and clairet wines. They are very food friendly and never tiring.
And I you want to fall in love, just try a white Bordeaux.
Entre-Deux-Mers whites are a very nice alternative (with a bit more body) than new world Sauvignon Blanc wines, and white wines from Graves or Pessac-Leognan are just epic. No kidding.
They’ve got herbal, flowery flavors, white fruit juice and if the oak aging was done in a controlled way, the most complex mouthfeel and finish. And you should be able to get a great bottle for under €20.
If I had a good cellar, I’d fill it up with white Bordeaux.
I am really curious about your image of Bordeaux, and how it has changed over the last year and maybe after reading my posts. So let me know what you think!
I hope to see you soon!