Cahors has a soft, supple style all its own.
Malbec is a rock star in our industry. That is if it is from Argentina. There, the transformation from shy, sensitive, earthy and awkward to rich, ripe, super clean and beautifully balanced was so spectacular the wine drinking world took immediate notice. It didn’t hurt that at go time the US 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 plentiful 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:
2011 Chateau Eugenie Cuvee Reservee de l’Aieul Cahors AOP South West France 14.5%, $20
This soft, billowy and tart Malbec blended with 10% Tannat has warm, inviting notes of raspberry, morello cherry, fig, date, spearmint, pink rose, espresso bean, cinnamon toast and cedar. Beautifully balanced. Imported by Wine Company, St. Paul MINN
2012 Chateau Bovila Les Quatres Eglisses Cahors AOP South West France 13%, $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. Imported by Opici Wines, Glen Rock NJ
2011 Chateau Haut-Monplaisir Prestige Cahors AOC South West France 14.5%, $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. Imported by Vintage 59 Imports, Washington DC
2014 Chateau de Gaudou Cahors AOC South West France 13%, $17
Engaging, spicy and tart Malbec with notes of cherry, plum, leather, chocolate pudding, cigar box and coffee bean. Imported by Grape Expectations, Richmond, CA
2009 Chateau de Chambert Cahors AOP South West France 92 14.5%, $18
Ripe but firm and tart Malbec with notes of cranberry, strawberry. cherry, licorice, fennel, balsam, pine, scrub, white pepper and cardamom. Imported by Touton Selections, NYC
Check out more of our Cahors reviews here: