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Cahors - Terroir, Culture, and Wine


paul o' vendange
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This may be out there, but I think it may be an interesting jumping off point for discussion.

I am fond of Rhone wines generally, and thus Cahors/Malbec wines are not typically my first choice. Not knowing much about these wines, I called my cousin (Rick Boyer, winemaker for Jekel Vineyards/Richard Boyer Wines) to give his thoughts.

He indicated that he had been to Cahors last year, and had a tremendous time. Seems there was an outdoor "art" festival consisting of all kinds of ribaldry and mayhem, all of it around the wine...

The land is rough, sparse, and the people seem to have a certain rough-hewn "to hell with the others" bent when it comes to their wine, if I've gotten him right...they know their wine is rough, highly tannic (and in the bottle I recently tried, I would say high in lactic or malic acid) and huge - not too complex, to me, just big. And they like it that way.

Not my taste, really - as I say, I prefer the forward, velvet fruit and spice of the Rhone, particularly Gigondas. But then, when I thought of the people, and the land, which is loaded with wild game (venison, fowl), I did see a perfect marriage with grilled meats, not aged at all, but wild as hell...I think now of boar, glistening with fatty remnants, grilled with local herb-crust and married with the tannic/acid, undeniably beautiful black wine.

So, the point of my post:

How much do you think the "cultural" terroir comes into play - not just the geographic inheritance, but the historical, and cultural, milieu of a given place - in the making of given wine(s)? All hype, or useful to understanding the "realm of play" of a given body of wines?

-Paul

 

Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais

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The land is rough, sparse, and the people seem to have a certain rough-hewn "to hell with the others" bent when it comes to their wine, if I've gotten him right...they know their wine is rough, highly tannic (and in the bottle I recently tried, I would say high in lactic or malic acid) and huge - not too complex, to me, just big.  And they like it that way.

How much do you think the "cultural" terroir comes into play - not just the geographic inheritance, but the historical, and cultural, milieu of a given place - in the making of given wine(s)?  All hype, or useful to understanding the "realm of play" of a given body of wines?

The "Black Wine" of Cahors has been famous for many centuries. I find it to be an acquired taste. These are big, fun, drinking wines, not ponderous at all. Served cool, they accompany many southern French staples: cheese, rillettes, foie gras, daubes. More interesting wines are made close by in Madiran. Find a bottle of Chateau Montus for comparison. Madiran is made with tannat. This grape is so rough, they soften it with cabernet sauvignon. No doubt, both these wines have character to spare. They are not for the meek. I agree that time and place can play an important part in the enjoyment of certain wines.

Mark

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Mark - thanks for the heads up on the Madiran - I will give it a try. Have to say, as ridiculous as it sounds, the visual of the Cahors was almost enough to sell me. Like drinking blood.

-Paul

 

Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais

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Paul,

Chateau Montus Cuvée XL 1995 is still in the market. Though not cheap (@$70), it will give you perfect example of what this wine is all about. It defines the term "sauvage".

As far as drinking blood is concerned...... my friend Bob Parker once left a half bottle of Bodegas Mauro 1995 Riserva for me at the restaurant to taste. As I sipped it, I tried to think what food could possibly accompany this wine. The image that popped into my head was that of a lion eating a freshly killed gazelle on the Serengeti Plain. Perfect match!

Mark

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Thanks again, Mark. To the extent possible, I would always like to find a good, solid representative of a given wine style, in order to know, "this is cahors," and not "this is an anomaly of the vintner," all in order to distinguish the great houses, regions, grapes, etc. (to the extent possible; e.g., I acknowledge there is not truly "one thing" as a Bordeaux).

Sounds like you have given one for the Madiran, and I will be looking for it. First, let me slay that roebuck I've been stalking with my teeth...

-Paul

 

Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais

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Paul,

Chateau Montus Cuvée XL 1995 is still in the market.  Though not cheap (@$70), it will give you perfect example of what this wine is all about. It defines the term "sauvage". 

As far as drinking blood is concerned...... my friend Bob Parker once left a half bottle of Bodegas Mauro 1995 Riserva for me at the restaurant to taste. As I sipped it, I tried to think what food could possibly accompany this wine. The image that popped into my head was that of a lion eating a freshly killed gazelle on the Serengeti Plain.  Perfect match!

Mark - I love the wines of Montus. Upfront and hedonistic they meet and defeat the rich foods of the area. The XL is $70 retail? I have not had it - can you fill me in?

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I love the wines of Montus. Upfront and hedonistic they meet and defeat the rich foods of the area. The XL is $70 retail? I have not had it - can you fill me in?

Craig,

I just checked my inventory: I paid $67.96 wholesale for the XL, that means retail @$100! The '95 is as good a Montus as I have ever tasted.

Mark

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  • 2 weeks later...

Paul -- I'm not sure where you are based, but if you are in NYC, Sherry-Lehmann has as good a Cahors selection as anywhere. They primarily sell Lagrazette, which is by reputation the leading wine of Cahors, but they also have a few other bottlings (that I like but am struggling to recall the names of).

FWIW, I find that Cahors is often the best wine deal on a restaurant list.

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Mogsob -

Thanks. At the moment we're in Chicago, but as of March, next year, will be in NYC, attending the French Culinary Institute. Will put this in the file for future use.

Lastsupper, wholly agree on the cassoulet. At 90+, I basically want to eat nothing (but a nice glass of Riesling)...

Thanks to both of you for your thoughts. My wife and I are on quite the Rhone hunt, and happy dancing around there for the time being, but very intrigued by these "hairy" cousins...

-Paul

 

Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais

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