French Malbec

Dave McIntyre on Malbec in The Washington Post

You know a grape reached worldwide fame when it makes the news in a great newspaper. In his article on Malbec for The Washington Post, Dave McIntyre concludes: “I knew Argentina had succeeded and become a wine force to reckon with when I attended last year’s Vinexpo, the great biennial trade fair in Bordeaux. The trade association for Cahors, the region in southwestern France that can legitimately claim to be the homeland of malbec (though they call the grape by a variety of names) set up its booth adjacent to the Argentine section in a direct challenge to the New World upstarts from Mendoza. Their slogan: “Cahors — The French Malbec.” ”

Here is a rather odd twist in history: would Cahors be piggybacking on Argentine? Not quite. Let’s go through the reasons why, according to Dave McIntyre, Argentine Malbec is successful in the US:

- Foreign investments in Argentina: one of the main investors considered is the French Michel Rolland or Paul Hobbs who was a guest of the Third International Malbec Days in May in Cahors;
- the star media are talking about Argentine Malbec;
- Value: Argentina knows how a make a great Malbec at $5 or $100. So does Cahors. Cahors wines have three major styles : tender and fruity, feisty and powerful, intense and complex with price range from $6 to $80.

It would seem there is no reason why Cahors Malbec would not rise to the same fame as its Argentinian counterparts and become the “darling” of American consumers. Cheers!

Answer to a Tweet on French and Argentinian Malbecs

From time to time, a social networker gets worried about a weird question: what is better, French or Angentinian Malbecs? A few months ago, an Argentinian sommelier asked this question on LinkedIn. Yesterday, somebody tweeted with this very same question.

Argentinian Malbecs and Cahors Malbecs are totally different. Comparing them would be like comparing a Bordeaux wine to a Californian Meritage. Two different terroirs, two different countries, different winemakers, different consumers. You don’t make the same wine in Bordeaux than in California even if the grapes are basically the same (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot). Same with Malbec: why should grapes grown so far away from each other and vinified with different methods be compared on a basis of “better or worse”? None is better than the other ones. It depends on the consumers’ personal tastes… and mood and weather and… whatever. Drinking wine should be a pleasure for the consumer, not a contest! Enjoy… with moderation!

Gary V on Cahors Malbec on WineLibraryTV

Gary V never made a secret of his weakness for Cahors Malbec. He already devoted several podcasts of WineLibraryTV to Cahors. In his episode 914 of WineLibraryTV, he presented the 2008 Clos La Coutale.

Gary’s passion for Cahors Malbec is spreading all over his followers. Among the 150 comments displayed on the video, a lot  mentioned wishes to “taste the difference between the Argentinine Malbecs and this one from France”, or “go try and find some for the BBQ this afternoon”, or said to be “very interested to try this one”, or they like “the old world earthy taste of Cahors”. PhilippeG is “looking forward to trying the 07 that is in the basement”. Hat off to Clos La Coutale and Cahors for such a good review.

A lot of positive comments for the great wines of Cahors! Thanks to Gary for shouting out the name!

More Cahors Wines in Seattle than in Toulouse?

Oh gosh! Where is Toulouse? It is the closest big city to Cahors in the South West of France on a line Bordeaux-Cahors-Toulouse. When you fly to Cahors, you land in Toulouse and you are about 1 hour away by car from our lovely city. You see, it is really close.

But the wine stores of Toulouse do not carry as many Cahors wines as the beautiful city of Seattle. If you are lucky enough to live in Seattle, go to Esquin wine store and pick some of their Cahors wines:

- Clos de Gamot Centenaire 2000 (52,99)
- Clos d’Un Jour, cuvée Un Jour sur Terre 2004 (28,99$)
- Château du Cèdre, cuvée Prestige 2005 (22,99$)
- Château Cayrou 2005 ($19,99$)
- Château Combal 2005 (17,99$)
- Domaine de la Berangeraie, cuvée Maurin 2006 (17,99$)
- Clos Coutale 2007 (16,99$)
- Château de Gaudou, cuvée Tradition 2007 (8,99$)

The customers have a rather large choice in styles, vintages (from 2000 to 2007) and prices from under $9 to over $50. Enjoy and let us know what you think. We’ll love to hear from you. Cheers!

When an Argentinian Restaurant features a Cahors Malbec

Lately a lot of comparative tastings between Cahors and Argentina Malbecs were organized. But it is the first time an Argentinian restaurant, Caminito Steackhouse, features a Cahors Malbec, Dom Brunet and actually likes it better than an Argentinian wine:   Dom Brunet Cahors Malber “a modern style, small batch, French-grown Malbec, which happens to be produced by a friend of Caminito. This French wine retains the familiar flavors of Argentine Malbec, yet differs in that is it slightly softer and more subtle on the palate. Essence of plum, mild earthy, rustic tones, polished and well-rounded French style wine, sure to be a welcome addition to our wine list!”

Dom Brunet is the wine featured in September by Caminito Argentinia Steackhouse in Northanmpton, MA. If you’re in the area, stop by and enjoy the real taste of Argentina beef over a glass of Cahors Malbec.

The favorite Cahors Malbec of the World Best Sommelier 2010

Gerard Basset, the 2010 World Best Sommelier, published the list of his favorite wines in the prestigious World of Fine Wine magazine. Domaine de la Bérangeraie Les Quatre Chambrées de La Bérangeraie 2008 is his favorite Malbec wine. Congratulations to Maurin Béranger, the wine maker.

Video: Journalist Anthony Rose on Cahors Malbec

British journalist Anthony Rose gave his general impressions on the Malbecs of Cahors while delivering the conclusion of the conference.

Videos of the International Malbec Days

The International Malbec Days ended two weeks ago but the buzz and the reactions on what happened are still going on.

If you want to have a good overview of the event, discover the video just released.

“The importance of French wine”

This is the title of a very provocative article by Brad Haskel in The Huffington Post.  As Haskel reminds us, “A high compliment about an Australian Chardonnay, or a California Chardonnay was that it tasted Burgundian, or was made from clones of the best producing regions of Burgundy. A great Cabernet Sauvignon, or a red Bordeaux blend, may have other names, such as Meritage in the new world, but the best compliment is still to call it a great Bordeaux blend.” Is it still true now?

While traveling in California, I’m very often asked if such Chardonnay tastes like a Burgundy Chardonnay or if this Pinot Noir is as good as a Burgundy one. Sometimes, wine makers admit they travel to France to visit Burgundy and try to figure out what make their wines so different from their French countreparts. It is, at least, the position of the “terroir-ists”, either in the New World or in the Old World.

This is true also of Malbec. First grown in Cahors, it is still the emblematic grape of the area. When it was imported to Argentina, the grape evolved in a very different way, thanks to Nicolas Catena.  According to David Kellaway, “what Nicolas Catena has contributed to the industry is a willingness to experiment with “microclimates” - the effect of altitude and local climatic conditions on grapes; moreover openly stating that climate is as much of an influence on a wine’s “terroir” as is the soil.” Catena put Malbec back on the wine scene and Cahors got bypassed by its younger child.

But the wheel is turning again. Wine makers, journalists and enologists are aware of the heritage coming from France. If “Chablis” is now a generic word in the US or in Australia, it’s not by chance: it is the homage paid by the New World to centuries of French know-how.  Cahors is on its way to recover its own history and to remind the world that Malbec was born on its slopes and was for many centuries the favorite wine of the kings, emperors and popes. The recent International Malbec Days showed the multiple expressions of the Cahors Malbec - from round and fruity to complex and intense.  It shows that French wine is still the benchmark of most wine expressions, whether it is from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec.

The Cahors Malbec Bottle

The new Cahors Malbec bottle was launched about 8 months ago. Its purpose was to advertise the connection between Malbec and its birthplace Cahors on international markets.

But as we, wine lovers all know, the content is also very important. The wine bottled under this special packaging answers several dratsic criteria: 75% Malbec and 25% Merlot, wine tasted and selected by a jury of the starred Cahors chefs, price between $15 and $25.

About 100,000 bottles from various estates and chateaux are already sold: among them, Château Croze de Py, Métaierie Grande du Théron, Château Saint-Sernin, Château Armandière and the properties of Alain Janicot.

The goal is to bottle about 400,000 bottles before the end of 2010. According to Jeremy Arnaud, Marketing Director of the UIVC and Gilles Boix in charge of the comercializtaion of the bottle, this is a realistic goal.

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French Malbec