I cannot believe that it’s been one year since Kelleigh last hosted our pre-Thanksgiving Imbibe New York Wine Club meet–-complete with sit down dinner and wine. This year, Malbec was the guest of honor; and so in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we decided to extend the invite to the entire family, including Cot or Auxerrois from Loire Valley and Cahors in southwestern France. And while the evening went sans familial breakdown, tears, or fight, we were quite surprised by the differences in personality, which included a wine likened to the thighs of a speed skater; and another reminiscent of a hot iron’s heat.
There was a time when Malbec was grown in 30 different French départements, and while it’s popularity has waned in the Old World, Cahors, and to some small extent Loire, still shine a light on the black grape, while Bordeaux and South West France allow it a role in the chorus. In the 1980’s Argentina picked up the ball by deciding to make wine for export. It revived its withered relationship to Malbec by putting it front and center stage, as its most important red grape. And though it’s oft claimed and believed that Argentina, as an adoptive parent, is better suited to cultivate Malbec than it’s biological bearer– southwestern France, I have to admit that because I tend to favor wines from cooler, Old World regions, I was most looking forward to the wines from France.
Raising the curtain, we uncorked Domaine Vigouroux Gouleyant Malbec Cahors 2007 (not pictured above), which was a tad too bitter vegetal, even for my Campari-loving tastes. It’s this biting finish that topples the structure of this light bodied wine, rendering the whole thing flat.
The big surprise of the night, came from Loire (pictured above); a wine by Marc Ollivier of Domaine de la Pepiere La Pepie Cot (Non-Vintage). I love the life that Ollivier breathes into the Loire–his Muscadet, his Cabernet Franc, his Cot. And though I’ve enjoyed his work in the past, his expression of Malbec is one that matches the meatless fare on my plate. It’s no surprise that this wine was favored by Caitlin too. We often like the same wines, I believe because neither of us eats meat. The carnivores of Wine Club (everyone else) favored the big Malbec wines of Argentina. La Pepie is a light bodied wine with high acidity, and fresh red fruit, like under-ripe strawberries, on the palate. The tannins are modest and the wine finishes clean as slate.
My other favorite wine of the night comes from Cahors, 2005 Chateau Pineraie, which I favored for its earthy elements and complexity. It begins with aromas of licorice root and dark plum cherry, above which hovers a fog of dark minerality. Flavors of raisin transform mid-palate to something dry. It smells like a cotton field, said Suzanne, to which I replied–It’s the steam-heat of the iron on cotton fabric. And she said, Yes! The acidity is a little low, but the dark minerality detected on the nose returns to the finish as slate, covered with a handful of dried rose petals.
Before dipping into the decanted Nosotros (pictured above) we drank another Malbec from Cahors, Chateau du Cedrus 2007, which blends Malbec with 10% Merlot. Fruitier than the first Cahors, and less vegetal, the Cedrus is smooth with a thin layer of bitter tannins–the wine’s crust. It’s minearally with notes of green pepper and dark cherry, and though these descriptors sound appealing as I write them, it was they ways in which they did or did not come together that made the experience of the wine itself not so great.
2006 Nosotros is the vine-child of Susana Balbo, the first woman winemaker in Argentina, and Pedro Marchevsky–two of Argentina’s best recognized vintners. It’s easy to appreciate the artfulness of the wine, its structure. It’s buxom and muscular like the thighs of a speed skater with black fruit–plum and raisin, cocoa, and spice. It’s balanced, it’s smooth, it’s integrated, and after decanting for a few hours, it becomes approachable and perhaps even nice. While not quite crumbling my resistance to big bodied wines, Nosotros at least welcomes me to recognize it elegance and to appreciate its its success.
The 2008 MB Malbec Washington State presented itself as a fruit bomb–a gap through which I couldn’t squeeze past.
And lastly, with my palate and belly full, 2007 Navarro Correas Collccion Privada Malbec, which brought to mind an oil well spurting through a cherry tree laden with fruit.
I hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving! Stay tuned for the night’s menu and for next month, when Imbibe New York Wine Club drinks Bordeaux.