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…
WINE OF THE WEEK #121
It is HOT in Belgium, can you believe it?! Time to heat up your BBQ and go to the shop for some Malbec!
The reason why I picked two Malbecs from Argentina is simple:
ever since the grape was introduced to Argentina by the French viticulturist Michel Pouget, the marriage between Malbec and Mendoza has been very successful.
The vineyards of Mendoza look dramatic and beautiful.
On a plateau with high altitude close to the Andes mountains, Malbec gets blessed with 2 very important ingredients to produce a great wine:
- cool nights for the acidity
- intense and continuous sunshine for a well developed skin and nice tannins
Straight forward, right?
The only thing that worries me a bit is the information that is on the website of the Alamos winery. Multiple times they mention that this wine has had 88/100 points from Wine Critic Stephen Tanzer and that they put in the same amount of effort as other wineries do for their 30$ wines, and that they are twice as cheap.
This info is totally irrelevant in my opinion, but anyway, let’s taste!
The color is what you would expect from a young Malbec : as dark as it gets! Be sure to have a toothbrush in your pocket when you taste a lot of these…
What I like about the looks is the vibrant granate red and some transparency that appears when I swirl. It makes me believe there is some elegance in this glass of wine.
Like the appearance, the nose smells dark as well : charcoal, cured ham, toast, and some dark chocolate.
When I swirl, more spices and black fruits appear, but overall the nose stays true to the first impression.
In my opinion, the aging in oak barrels is not as integrated as it should be, but I am quite curious to taste this wine.
I remember me as a little boy making sandwiches with chocolate and ham, and this wine reminds me a bit of that…
What a bizarre glass of wine. This wine is way too oaky for me, and this is all I get up front : a toasty and rough experience. After this first attack, the wine is lost, and it is very hard to find elegance, balance and flavor. It stays very dark and inky.
When I cool down the wine, the balance gets better, but there are still issues.
The finish is a lovely surprise! Very dark again, with flavors of whiskey peat, figs and almonds. The bad news is that you have to swallow the grilled wooden stick again to get more of this nice finish.
For the price that I payed, €8, this is probably a wine that will be fantastic to have on the table on your family barbecue, when the kids are running around, you talk and eat and drink at the same time without really paying attention to what passes your throat. However, I am sitting here behind my desk, tasting with my full attention, and then there are just too many balance and elegance issues to be positive about Mr. Alamos.
Sorry dude, maybe better next time.
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 #120
another month is coming to an end, and I have learned 2 very important lessons about white wine from Italy.
1. Wines from sicily, try them!
2. Whites from the north are stubborn and difficult, but pair them with the right dish and you might unlock a feast of flavors.
I hope our last wine, the cuvée Fontanavigna form winery Terre del Principe will learn me something new as well.
The unknown white grape this time is Pallagrello Bianco.
Before you continue reading, you have to say Pallagrello again 3 times with your Don Corleone voice. Do it.
Pallagrello Bianco is a grape that is only grown in the region of Campania, and its main characteristics are:
- very small berries
- very easy on gaining sugar during ripening
- low on acidity
It is funny how almost all grapes that I’ve tried this month, seam to lack acidity, yet truly deliver!
Let’s see if this one does the same
What a dark dark wine. The color is deep, golden, almost caramel like. The juice is vibrant, clean (thus filtered) and very alive. My first impression, and I might be wrong, reminds me of an oaky new world chardonnay. It looks heavy, but let’s see…
A full nose is meeting my expectations.
There are hints of banana, thin pineapple, chalk and also something cold and milky which is weird.
However, next to the fruit components and this awkward cold sensation, I also get a lot of sunshine. There is hay, grilled cheese, dried apricots and even sesame seeds.
Hmmm… the wine is falling away a bit.
A nice and soft attack is followed by a good amount of acidity. White pepper, peaches and again apricots are what I am having. This wine has a very round mouthfeel, and what they said was true : the acidity is overall a minor player in the tasting experience.
This feeling reminds me a lot of a Marsanne, a Roussanne or even better : Viognier.
The end of this wine is fantastic. It tastes exactly like creme brulee with an apricot pudding!
So, all in all, I think this is a wine that will please a lot of new world Chardonnay drinkers and old world Viognier drinkers. The “sad” news is that these are not my kind of wines, and for a price of €16, this wine is a lot of money for me.
Will please a lot of wine drinkers, definitely!
My cup of tea, not really.
Getting a gold medal, no.
Getting a silver medal, … maybe.
Getting a bronze medal, … it’s not that bad.
P.s.: If you try this wine yourself, put it in a decanter. This wine tastes a lot better on the 4th day, than on the first day.