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 OF THE WEEK #080
I’m not allowed to curse on my blog (I think) but godd*mned time flies.
We are already at our last bottle from the Loire valley and I would have had no objection if there would be another box waiting for me. The flexibility of the region is just amazing. And to showcase this, I saved the next bottle until the end:
Jean-François Mérieau - AOC Touraine- Cent visages 2009
At first I thought I picked up a rather special wine, because I did not expect to find a Malbec wine in the Loire valley. But, it turns out Malbec used to be one of the most planted grapes in the region, and it is also known as Côt ( just like in Cahors).
Luckily for me, Jean-Francois Mérieau is a rather special guy. He is a fantastic young winemaker who buys old vines from the region, replants them and tries to maintain the history and tradition from the region. Amongst his vineyards, you will find offcourse Cabernet Franc, but also Pinot Noir, Gamay, Malbec and Sauvignon Blanc. If that was not enough, he works the vineyards biodynamically and with very low yeilds to extract the best possible expression.
What I really like about this wine, and probably some other wines he makes, is that they are only slightly filtered. Unfiltered wines tend to be a bit funky from time to time, but if you really want to get the full expression (without being afraid of some funny or difficult flavors) of a grape variety or soil type, unfiltered wine is really cool te taste.
So let’s go! :)
The colour is absolutely stunning. It is a very deep grenade red and it has something burlesque about it. The longer I stare, the more I get lost in the glass. Dangerous!
Wham! It’s like somebody is squeezing fresh fruits in your face.
Never felt so much energy and pleasure.
The nose is literally packed with black fruit : black cherry, prunes and just a hint of pomegranate. And now that I am writing these notes, the fruit is making place for some other cool stuff : leather, pencil shavings, bacon, chocolate and very strong punch of (have a seat) grinded poppy seeds.
The nose is so complex, yet so playful and vivid, I just want to drink it!
I don’t know what to say and I’m very amazed.
This wine is the exact opposite of rocket science: it is a direct link with nature: so fresh, light, delicious, soft, full of flavor and amazingly balanced.
A wonderful layer of prunes and more red fruits now is carried by this black dusty component. I described it as pencil shavings and poppy seeds on the nose, but it now acts more as a kind of smooth oily dark layer, like if they added a drop of soy sauce to the wine.
There is no particular evolution on the finish, but the wine just keeps on doing what started on the nose. It keeps me busy, it keeps me sippin’ again and again and I got the feeling this is what wine would have tasted like 100 years ago.
The link that I feel with nature right now, the amazing expression of grape and terroir, and that extra layer of magic makes this just an epic bottle of wine in all its simplicity. Try it!
Theme of the month - LOIRE - June 2012
I must admit that it is difficult sometimes to write an attractive blogpost because of the lack of inspiration or material. But right now, I am experiencing the exact opposite. My head is flooded with information, images and stuff that I want to talk about.
I just got back from an amazing trip to the Loire valley in France. Together with 9 other bloggers from UK, Germany, the Netherlands France and Belgium, we did a very cool bike tour around the cities of Tours and Saumur to taste and discover the most important Appelations in the Loire valley: Vouvray, Chinon, Saumur & Saumur-Champigny. (Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé should have been on the list as well, but it was a bit too far away from the other AOC’s.)
You can find pictures of the trip on my facebook-page : HERE
I was lucky enough to talk to Loire superstar writer Jim Budd about the region and what makes the Loire valley so interesting and particular. The conclusion is that the river is so long (450km) that it connects 2 climates : near the atlantic ocean you have a typical coast climate (never really hot, never really cold) with pacific winds and a soil consisting of slate, schiest and clay. Towards the center of France, you find a much harcher continental climate with hot summers and cold winters on a much softer soil of limestone, clay and sand.
The interesting part is that the same region has a lot of ingredients to play with, and as a result Loire produces an amazing range of great wines : sparkling wine (historically even comparable with Champagne) fresh white wines, round white wines, red wines from Gamay, offcourse Cabernet Franc with 10 different profiles, and stronger reds like Malbec (Cot) and some really interesting sweet whites as well.
At the winefair “Vitiloire” , where all the winemakers from the region gather every year to have an open air tasting in a very nice atmosphere, I made the following selection :
- DOMAINE DE GRANDES ESPERANCES - AOC Touraine amboise - cuvée Aurore 2010 (100% Chenin blanc)
- THOMAS & FILS - AOC Sancerre - Grand’ Chaille 2010 (100% Sauvignon blanc)
- WILFRID ROUSSE - AOC Chinon - Clos de la Roche 2008 (100% Cabernet franc)
- JEAN FRANCOIS MERIEAU - AOC Touraine - Cent visages 2009 (100% Malbec)
I’m ready to have some winefun in June!
See you soon.
WINE OF THE WEEK #009
The 3rd bordeaux-grape tasting :
SANTA JULIA, Malbec, 2009 Reserva
I got this wine for €9,00 @migs world wines in Brussels.
Made from 100% hand-picked, organically grown Malbec grapes from the Maipu valley in Mendoza, Argentina.
Here are my tasting notes:
A very deep, almost black color. If Coca cola would have a purple shine to it…
The nose is very round and full. Vibrance of strawberries, depth of figs and syrup along with some licorice & coffee. My girlfriend found that it had some violets, but for me it was to thick for that. And oh yeah, oak & vanilla are part of the nose as well. I guess this is a very attractive nose … if you like a big vanilla red.
Hm, the wine feels watery and has a fluffy structure. Sweet and soft tannins, a bit of raspberry freshness, but the mid-palate consist for 80% out of a watery sweet juice.
Butter cake, red fruit and vanilla dessert. I feel a bit disappointed that the coffee, licorice notes didn’t came through on the palate.
I feel in doubt with this one. On the nose, I feel like everything is right there, on the palate is just didn’t make me sing - I don’t know if it’s me or the wine. But I guess I’ll give it a silver medal.