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Snooth User: nodnarblee

First Vintage! In Cahors, France :)

Posted by nodnarblee, Oct 19, 2011.


Hey everyone, 

My name is Brandon - a University student from Vancouver , B.C. 

@Chateau de Chambert

Currently in Cahors, France - Malbec country! Finished my first Vintage and now i'm sticking around until December to learn more about the vineyard and how they bottle the wine for distribution. (and more)

Reason for being here: Expanding my knowledge on wine and this diverse industry for a future in Wine import/export (family business). 

I'm loving how active this site is! 

In a few months I'll be southbound heading to another vineyard in Chile for another vintage. 

Nice to meet everyone!

I'm wondering what path everyone took to broaden their wine experiences... Does try everything and anything still apply when I am new to wine? 

Also i've been tasting alot of the wines in the region, but im interested in how Cahors Malbec differs from Malbec in other parts of the world, e.g Australia, Argentina... can anyone share? 

What is the market for Malbec like where you come from? Is it popular? Any suggestions for the next time I'm home? (Canada) 

Thanks everyone! 


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Reply by premiercollection, Oct 19, 2011.

Hey Brandon,

You know you're in Malbecs old stomping ground; we certainly don't see many pure Malbecs from France versus the New World wines.  You apparently are about to find that out with your southbound sojourn.  My old standby is the Gascon label based on quality and price.  Catena also makes, by my taste; some good Malbecs.  Both of these labels are widely available here in the states.  Concha Y Toro has also sent us a Malbec under their Cellar of the Devil label.  I don't think Malbec is a big market wine here but it's always at the top of my suggestions when I'm asked for an inexpensive crowd pleaser.

Reply by duncan 906, Oct 19, 2011.

I am a fan of Cahors and have reviewed a couple on this website.Cahors is at least the equal of Bordeaux in terms of drinking quality but it is possible to find a reasonable example for a couple of euros in a Calais supermarket.I always get a bottl;e or two when I go over.I had a look at the website for Chateau de Chambert and was intrigued to see that they do a Malbec desert wine.I wondered if it was similar to Banyuls?

Reply by Clairette, Oct 20, 2011.

Hallo, Brandon. Will Chateau de Chambert be at the Toulouse Salon des Vins 4-6th November? I go to it every year...this one, too. Will I see you there?

I live in London and generally, French (and especially Cahors) malbec is dense, chewy stuff. One writer (Andrew Jefford) described it as like eating minced railway lines. I loved that. Argentine (and Chile, too - my Chilean colleague points out that they do it there, too) malbec is an altogether less demanding drink, and great value. Even so - I dearly love wines from the south west of France (hence Toulouse!)

Reply by duncan 906, Oct 22, 2011.

I would never describe Cahors as 'dense chewey stuff' or as 'like eating minced railway lines'.I think that is firstly an outrageous thing to say,and secondly,simply not true

Reply by Street Person, Oct 24, 2011.

Bota Box 3L makes a a good quaffing malbec.I believe the boxing is in Calif, maybe the vineyards too. At the right store in NJ it's $16.95 pre tax

Reply by duncan 906, Oct 24, 2011.

You may get it in New Jersey but it does not make it to this side of the pond

Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 25, 2011.

My limited experience with Cahors malbec is that I like it more than the (crowd pleasing) fruity, almost bland malbecs of Argentinia, which I just don't get.  But, like merlot, I don't see enough of an improvement that I want it starring in my wine.  Which is just a matter of my taste.  Okay in small amounts in the background, and I guess I could keep chasing the grape to find one that I like.  But there are so many other grapes I already like and that come in every level from inexpensive to crazy, why keep drinking the one that doesn't do it for you? And while I can't say it's full on chewy, the Cahors is definitely more tannic and shows some structure I find totally lacking in the Argentinian version.

That said, I think it's great that you are following the seasons and heading for S. America.  It took me many years to expand my horizons out of California, for the most part, and it's still a key part of my reference for wines.  Even now, I haven't got a lot of energy to try S. American wines outside of Carmenere, largely because you aren't going to get carmenere much outside Chile, and it makes wine I really like.  A little like merlot, but a lot like Cab Franc, IMO, and absolutely worth a try--perfect with a beef stew in the winter, and much too hearty for warmer weather.  Keep posting, and start a thread when you go to S. America, so we can follow your adventures vicariously.

Reply by duncan 906, Oct 25, 2011.

Cahors is usually a blend of 70-90% malbec and the rest merlot which may be why you prefer it to the South American version

Reply by Lucha Vino, Oct 29, 2011.

I am comparing a Clos la Coutale 2006 Cahors to a Washington Malbec from Ash Hollow.  The Cahors is 80% Malbec and 20% Merlot.  It is medium bodied with some earth, minerality and hints of spices. The Ash Hollow is much bigger with licorice and black fruit character and a bit of coffee and cocoa.  Very different styles of the same grape. 

Tasting and comparing the same wine from different regions is one of my favorite things to do.  The differences highlight how unusual and interesting the world of wine can be.

Enjoy your adventures!

Reply by JonDerry, Oct 31, 2011.

I haven't tried anything from Cahors, but owing to this post i'm sure that I will soon enough. France just keeps on giving.

Reply by amour, Oct 31, 2011.

Have you tried Clos La Coutale (CAHORS) ?...I am able to get it sometimes in Miami, and it is great with a super Argentine Steak!

Reply by dmcker, Oct 31, 2011.

Cahors malbecs are infinitely more interesting to me than those I've had from Argentina, and I'm with you, Fox, on your description of the Argentine versions. Those from up the Loire (called Cot there and in other parts of France) are a little greener, and less ripe (but still far more interesting than those from Argentina I've had which in the worst cases were flat sodapop) than those in southwestern France along the Lot river in the Cahors denomination, where the weather is definitely nicer and sunnier.

To get that denomination the requirement is at least 70% malbec. You can find a whole range of malbec percentages within those requirements, some bottles ranging up to 100%. Blends of less than that also include merlot, as mentioned, and tannat. I don't know exactly what it was, but somehow I was always curious to try the 'black cahors' I read about in multiple sources, whether literature or journalism. So I eventually did over in their home area, and found the malbecs went exceedingly well with game, duck, cassoulet and the like. Sometimes harsh on the tannins when young, after aging good bottles can really become something special.

I've posted in the past about some Clos Triquedina bottles I've had (that's the easiest good label to find overseas in my experience). Here I talk about some very nice meals I had with the wines (and since then I've had the '98 Prince Probus which was an even better wine). Here is a somewhat knowledgeable discussion from someone else in a dialog about wines of the area, and here is an excellent thread specifically about Cahors Malbec, with some insightful discussion from a winemaker in the area (Philippe).

Reply by JonDerry, Nov 1, 2011.

All sounds good D, I like the idea of french Malbec as opposed to U.S. and most of South America, and it sounds even more appealing with a good chunk of Merlot blended in. The history is also pretty fascinating, along with the nearly black color.

Really looking forward to trying some of these wines, and thanks for the rec's - though they appear tough to track down here in the states.

Reply by dmcker, Nov 1, 2011.

You should definitely make your way through those threads, particularly the 3rd one, since Philippe's (he's a French dotcommer who exited and then bought a winery and dove right into Cahors winemaking with similar energy) explanations are beyond excellent. It might be the best thread ever on Snooth....

Reply by duncan 906, Nov 1, 2011.

Prince Probus and Clos Triquedina are top of the range producers from the Cahors appellation.In France most Cahors is in the under 5 euros everyday drinking category.I have reviewed a few for Snooth and I have a Chateau la Coustarelle in my cupboard from my last visit to Calais that cost me 8 euros and which I will also review for Snooth when I get round to drinking it.I like Cahors because it is usually very good value for money and it is a good drinking experience.After all,back in the eighteenth century the officers in the French armed services were served Cahors with their dinner while the other ranks had to make do with mere Bordeaux

Reply by Siddhartha Banerji, Nov 2, 2011.

Congratulations to the audience and specilly Brandon.I am comparatively new in the wine industry but lot old in the world of business and journalism.Taking self imposed semiretirement period in life after having served 40 and odd years around 24 countries,I have wine as the most passionate,satisfying(to drink,read and write) subject to pursue round my hours.I am on a research spree on Indian wine industry with exposures to foreign wines.

What a great site,so interactive and full of contents.And you are its sparkling dimonds to grace the lovely neck piece.Congrats!! again and welcome to join me to DO for the heavenly elixir.( banerji from Mumbai,India

Reply by Lucha Vino, Nov 2, 2011.

Amour - I had the Clos la Coutale this past weekend.  No problem locating it in Seattle.

I am with D on the comparison of French Malbec.  The Cahors was much richer than the Cot I have tried (green is a great description). 

Washington Malbec seems to be leaning toward the Big & Bold side of the scale yet still enjoyable with heavy earth and spice notes.

Malbec from Argentina seems to be really fruit forward or "jammy."  Not really my cup of tea (or glass of wine!).

Check out my comparison of a Washington Malbec to the Clos la Coutale Cahors.

Reply by GregT, Nov 3, 2011.

nod - I'd agree with dmucker's take on the dif between Argentina and French Malbec for the most part.  The Cot in the Loire tends to be greener and leaner than that in Cahors, but not everyone grows it there as Cab Franc is their preferred red.  Don't forget, Malbec can be difficult in damp climates.  That's why they ripped most of it out of Bordeaux, where it was once the dominant grape. After the phylloxera scare in the late 1800s they were replanting anyway so they figured they'd go with a more adaptable grape.

The reason the writer described it as minced railroad ties is probably because it can be tannic and tough. As a matter of fact, much of the Malbec from Cahors isn't very good at all.  In more recent years however, they've learned how to tame it and that region, like many others, is undergoing a bit of a makeover.  We compare it to Malbec from Argentina with some inaccuracy too.  The comparison should not be Cahors / Argentina any more than it should be Oakville / France.  Argentina is huge and has greater climate variation than the entire country of France.  Most of the Argentine Malbec comes from Mendoza and even within that fairly large region, most of it comes from a few subregions.

The Argentine regions for the most part are warm and sunny and the elevations can be very high - higher than any region in Europe. However, if you move farther south that's not the case. Farther south the elevations are lower and the weather cooler.  So the wine from say Salta, which is in the north, is very different from that from Cahors.  The wine from regions like Lujan de Cujo is different from both.  The wine from some of the newer regions in Patagonia is different from all of those.

Moreover, people should compare similar qualities.  It's not fair to compare a $5 Malbec from Argentina to something that's a vineyard bottling from Cahors.  BTW - I don't believe it's true that most of the Malbec in Cahors is blended. I've had plenty that is not blended at all. The 70% is a minimum, it's not an absolute requirement.

As the Malbec in Cahors has improved, it's become riper. Some people are using new oak as well and I've had a few from there that could fool anyone as to their origin.  Nonetheless, at their core, the better wines from that region tend to be tougher than much of the cheaper wines from Argentina, largely because of the sun/heat differences. In Argentina there is a lot of mass-produced wine that is like mass-produced wine from many places, i.e. well-made for the most part but lacking any particular personality. It's hurt them to an extent because people are reluctant to pay $50 for a bottle from Argentina as a result of all the cheap stuff. But in Salta for example, the wines are lighter and more floral.  If you think of Pinot Noir, they tend to move in that direction.  In the central Mendoza region, they're bigger and riper and often have a lot of oak to them.

In Australia it's a different game entirely. They don't have the elevations of Argentina and they don't have the weather of Cahors.  Like everything else over there, the Malbec can get pretty ripe.

Reply by JonDerry, Nov 3, 2011.

Thanks for putting the SA bashing into perspective Greg.

Argentina has the climate to grow great Malbec, and they probably do have some excellent wines. However, the good stuff from Argentina, if it makes it out here to the states or wherever, probably doesn't fit into our budgeting like you say at around $50 or above. We feel we shouldn't have to pay that kind of money for Malbec, and of course at the $10 - $20 level, all kinds of mass produced, international wine making concerns come in to play and it really isn't such a surprise afterall. 

Reply by JonDerry, Nov 10, 2011.

Going from last (fontodi) to first, Cahors and Argentine Malbec.

Saturday night, I went out to Strip Steak, which i'll say is easily a top 5 steakhouse in Las Vegas based on the quality of food, service, and the wine list had good options.

For instance, the by the glass menu offered a Cahors Malbec - Clos La Coutale, 2007. It worked well with steak and seemed pretty versatile as well. Was very dark in color as expected, a good dose of barnyard on the nose. Palate had a strong soil component i've come to expect from french wine, along with blackberry and coffee notes. Some fairly strong tannic grip on the finish, but nothing to prevent one from drinking now. Noticed some NY retailers carrying this for $13 or so. Very nice table wine at that price. 88 points. 70% Malbec, 15% Merlot, 15% Tannat

Now, here's where it gets interesting...when I asked the waiter for another Malbec, he brought me one, but one that tasted a little different. I thought to myself, wow this Malbec's really opening up! The barnyard had blown off, was getting blue fruit and some sweetness on the palate...right bank Malbec? No, he gave me the other Malbec from Argentina! It was an Anoro Malbec from Mendoza, 2008 - There wasn't really a drop off in quality, at least for me, perhaps a little more taste but also slightly less complex. 88-89

Would love to try these two side by side another time. I had formulated the above thoughts, before finding out for certain when the check came that I was given the wrong wine. Little did the waiter know, it was the perfect accident for this thread.

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