Thursday, September 3, 2009
The Darker the Berry, the Darker the Wine
Cahors is Back, Cahors is Black, Cahors is Malbec! That statement was on the cover of the promotional materials for wine tasting I attended yesterday at The Dupont Hotel. Cahors is one of the lesser known wine regions of France, but with the fine representation yesterday, that won't be the case for long.
Cahors, located in Southwest France, became an AOC in 1971 and is now making its move to center stage with the growing popularity of Malbec around the world. Cahors producers 19.5% of all the Malbec in the world...but the greater known Malbec regions in Argentina produce over 70%. Well, Cahors was doing Malbec long before Argentina. Malbec from Cahors is affectionately nicknamed "The Black Wine" due to its dark color in the glass. At present, Cahors wine must be made with at least 70% Malbec. It's often blended with Merlot to offer rounder, mellower characteristics or Tannat to reinforce the Malbec grape flavors and to allow for greater aging potential. Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are prohibited in Cahors blends.
Typical flavors of French Malbec are violet, black currant, cherry, licorice, vanilla, menthol, and truffle. The Cahors wines of the tasting were divided into 3 categories which made it easier to know what you may like and how to pair it before you even took a sniff or sip. Tender & Fruity, Feisty & Powerful, and Intense & Complex. The Tender & Fruity is most suited to the American palate with the fresh fruit flavors of cherry and black currant and light tannins. These wines pair perfectly with poultry or grilled meat and can even be served as an aperitif. My personal favorites were the Feisty & Powerful ones. These wines showed much more complex fruit flavors, heavier tannins and great balance in the blend.
Wines of Note from the Tasting:
Chateau la Coustarelle Grande Cuvee Prestige -- aged for 1 year in French oak but didn't impart a strong oaky taste on the palate, smooth flavors of black fruits and violets were present
Chateau Pierre Le Grand -- fresh flavors of blackberry and woodsy notes on the palate with a slightly chalky finish. great balance of fruits and tannins.
Chateau de Chambert -- very earthy on the nose but black cherry and minerals on the palate. 25% of this wine was aged for 1 yr in French oak which softened the tannins a bit and lended to a round complex finish. definitely an example of a 'black wine' with its dark dark inky color in the glass.
Chateau Armandiere Diamant Rouge -- slight hint of oak on the nose but replaced by strong black fruit and mushroom flavors on the palate. pretty high tannins in this one but the black cherry flavors provided a great balance.