WINE OF THE WEEK #124
I am going to start with a confession: this month has been an eye opener for me. It is probably no secret for you that Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir/Spätburgunder are 2 of my favorite grapes - both light, delicate and fragrant when they are well made.
I never thought to find the same pleasure in one of the grapes I associate with the new world like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Malbec. But, I admit … Malbec deserves a spot on my wine grape podium.
I am praying that the last wine of this theme confirms my feeling.
This is a vin de soif from natural winemaker Fabien Jouves from the domain Mas del Périé in Cahors. However, this 100% Malbec from 2012 does not hold the AOC Cahors, because it was not entirely made following the prescriptions of the AOC.
I am very curious to taste this wine, after having a very difficult and still very young “real” cahors from 2006.
Let’s dive in!
Being a very young wine, the juice has an extreme purple color. It looks like playing with ink, my glass, my carafe and even my hands are colored. It’s incredible.
Let there be no doubt : this is a natural wine. Pure freshness, aroma of grapes, and a high energy. It is so remarkable that 90% of the wines I taste have a lower energy level.
It is not so obvious however, or is it?, to say that I am sticking my nose in a glass of Malbec : I get almonds, beetroot, raspberries and curry.
The wine is very juicy and flavorful in my mouth, elegant as well. The biggest issue is the age : all the components haven’t had the time yet to get along, and so the acidity and the tannins are still acting on their own, not helping to enhance the flavor of the wine.
What I love about the mouth is the richness this wine shows. I was afraid after the nose to get a very acidic, very sharp kind of wine, but I get a dry and full chocolate flavor and a lot of fresh red fruits. Both very well balanced.
Something extraordinary happens on the finish. A very minty flavor appears, combined with strawberries, cherries and chocolate. Where is the vanilla ice cream?!
Now, the question is, is this a great wine?
My guess is : yes, but you read that well, I guess it is a great wine. This wine is still too much separated in small peaces because of its age, but all looks very promising.
I have to trust my gut feeling, and if there is somebody out there that follows my advice, I have to go for gold! This is a pretty delicious and adventurous malbec.
WINE OF THE WEEK #123
thanks for reading my new blog post.
As you know, we started in Argentina with wine #121, we went to the birthplace of malbec : Cahors in France with wine #122, and to keep the rhytm, let’s just go back to Argentina again and see if this time, I hit my sweet spot for real.
The wine that carries my hope on its shoulders today is from the Viniterra winery in Mendoza, and the cuvée is Select, 2008
The “select” range from the winery is their top level wine. This means :
- grapes are hand picked
- after fermentation, the wine is kept on its lees for a week or 2 to soften tannins and for a better structure
- the wine ages for 12 months on french oak
- yields are very low : 1,5kg / plant.
About the yields, I was like “oh, right, 1,5kg / plant” … but do you have a clue what that means? I don’t.
So, let’s do some math to find out how many hl/ha (hectoliter / hectare) this is : a quality wine has in my opinion a max of 35 hl/ha in red.
On a normal vineyard has around 2000 plants / hectare.
At a ratio of 1,5kg / plant, this equals 3000kg of fruit / hectare.
For 100l of juice, you will need around 130kg of fruit.
So we need to divide 3000kg of fruit by 1,3 to convert it to liters : 3000/1,3 = 2307 l.
End conclusion : a yield of 2307 liter per hectare or 23hl/ha.
That’s perfect! Even better than perfect!
So let’s go.
The wine might appear very dark, but it is just a cover of a very deep ruby red. A bright surface and long legs (yeah…).
This is a very goodlookin’ glass.
Oh wow, the aromas seduce me… stop!
The nose is a very rich fruit bouquet of fragrant raspberries, blackberries and even strawberries, dipped in a black syrup with figs, plums and melted brown sugar and some coffee bean and chocolate frosting.
In other words, an amazing blend between light and dark, black and white, good and evil…
Is this really a 14€ wine?
Think new world, french oak, argentina and you expect a robust, big, difficult beast. However, this wine is an athlete, a gentleman. So easy in the mouth, so elegant on your tastebuds and nothing that bites.
Plus, the balance is so great that you get tons of extra flavors.
In one word, this is epic!
The finish goes towards dried figs, chocolate mousse, cherries and a never ending freshness.
I rank this wine among one of the best new world wines I’ve ever tasted. In all its power and density, this wine is polished, elegant, well balanced and just amazingly spot on. You don’t get the old world stinky stuff, but that’s not what you need every time either.
Easily, I’m going to buy myself a case of this, and I suggest you do the same.
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!