Most of you will have difficulty believing I could go absolutely GAGA about a shockingly affordable $16.95 bottle of Cahors Malbec. Imported by Berkeley’s legendary Francophile Kermit Lynch, this blend which includes 20% Merlot, should not be compared with any Argentine Mendoza experience.
The 2019 Clos la Coutale is simply a GEM! Refined and charming for delicious drinking now, but balanced with a rustic elegance and finely integrated tannin for proven aging. Striking with alluring aromas of dark purple berry fruits, mulberry, cardamon and ground white pepper. The same complexity and juicy flavors, add a hint of cocoa, glide across the palate with an unexpected satiny texture, and extend into the tapered finish. 13.5% alcohol. Recommend decanting to aerate for 30 minutes before service.
Historically before the European phylloxera outbreak in the 1860s, the Cahors region produced Malbec based wines which were considered serious rivals to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot based blends of Bordeaux. Situated about 170 miles from Bordeaux. Cahors’ viticulture was decimated and Malbec plantings throughout Europe never fully recovered. Those farmers who did attempt to revive the region with new plantings, were only interested in producing high yielding production wines without an interest in quality or tannin management.
Cahors AOC is the region where Malbec (or Cot or Auxerrois as it is sometimes known there) comes from originally – the “black wines of Cahors”. The vineyards in Cahors are located on a series of alluvial limestone terraces, rising up from the Lot River. This is REAL Malbec and no comparison to the transplanted Malbec brought by immigrants to Argentina should be made.
The Bernède family is an intricate part of this tradition, watching over one of the region’s oldest domaines that was founded before the French Revolution. Philippe Bernède, continues the family tradition with both passion and ingenuity. Philippe’s vines rest upon the gentle slopes that rise up from the Lot River. He farms sixty hectares of land along the alluvial terraces of the Lot Valley that are rich in siliceous, clay, and limestone soils. The microclimate of the vineyards is ideal, with southwest sun exposure and topographic protection against the frost.
Philippe Bernède has produced a traditional Cahors bend of 80% Malbec and 20% Merlot. The grapes are sorted and de-stemmed after harvest. Each vineyard parcel is vinified separately in stainless steel with daily punch-downs. The fermentation lasts between 15 to 18 days. The wine is blended in January and aged in foudre and 1-2 year old barrels from Bordeaux grand cru for 12 months before being bottled.
Again, do not rely on your experience with Argentine Malbec, as there is no comparison to be made. Like comparing apples to oranges. Trust me, you owe it to yourself to try a bottle!