The SOMM Journal

April / May 2016

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Page 22 of 108

22 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } APRIL/MAY 2016 { planet grape } MALBEC IS A ROCK STAR IN OUR INDUSTRY. That is, if it is from Argentina. There, the transfor- mation from shy, sensitive, ear thy and awkward to rich, ripe, super clean and beautifully balanced was so spectacular the wine drinking world took immediate notice. It didn't hur t that at go time the U.S. dollar's strength provided a two-for-the-price- of-one valuation. Malbec, one of the five varieties used in red Bordeaux, is thought to have originated in South West France, though in Cahors the local name is Auxerrois, suggesting origins in Northern Burgundy. The grape is sensitive to frost, downy mildew and rot, and has therefore come to reach its pinnacle of varietal expression in warm, sunny Mendoza. I love Mendozan Malbecs because they offer clean, rich, ripe fruit when I'm craving that, and plen - tiful natural acidity. But some of them are as lavishly oaked as California wines and I find that an obstacle when looking to showcase delicious and especially delicate cuisine. So these days I look to Cahors, especially in light of the trend towards clean wines, made softer and more supple with the addition of well-ripened Merlot—Cahors is required by law to have a minimum of only 70% Malbec, so that gives some wiggle room. Here are my top picks after an extensive regional tasting. Château Eugénie 2011 Cuvée Réservée de l'Aïeul, Cahors AOP ($20) This soft, billowy and tart Malbec blended with 10% Tannat has warm, inviting notes of raspberry, morello cherry, fig, date, spear - mint, pink rose, espresso bean, cinnamon toast and cedar. Beautifully balanced. 14.5%. THE WINE COMPANY, ST. PAUL MN Château Bovila 2012 Les Quatre Églises Malbec, Cahors AOP ($15) Delicate, pretty, pithy and light, Pinot Noir– like in weight, but with darker fruit along with notes of dark chocolate, mole, seared pork, duck skin and Angostura Bitters. 13%. OPICI WINES, GLEN ROCK NJ Château Haut- Monplaisir 2011 Prestige, Cahors AOC ($25) Fruity and supple Malbec with notes of cherry cobbler, kirsch, dark chocolate, clove, Sumatran coffee, vanilla bean, and red rose, and tart on the finish. 14.5%. VINTAGE 59 IMPORTS, WASHINGTON, DC Château de Gaudou 2014 Tradition, Cahors AOC ($12) Engaging, spicy and tart Malbec with notes of cherry, plum, leather, chocolate pudding, cigar box and coffee bean. 13%. GRAPE EXPECTATIONS, RICHMOND, CA Château de Chambert 2009, Cahors AOP ($18) Ripe but firm and tart Malbec with notes of cranberry, strawberry, cherry, licorice, fennel, balsam, pine, scrub, white pepper and cardamom. 14.5%. TOUTON SELECTIONS, NYC CAHORS HAS A SOFT, SUPPLE STYLE ALL ITS OWN by Catherine Fallis, MS Malbec—Make Mine French IMAGE MARKAUMARK VIA THINKSTOCK

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