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Tim York

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WTN: International Malbec Days 3 - The wines

by Tim York » Fri Apr 11, 2008 3:29 pm

The heart of the Malbec Days was the tastings. I have never tasted so many Malbecs in such a short time and I have had to alter some pre-conceptions, mainly about Cahors.

I was expecting a lot of dense tannic wines which would be difficult to enjoy in their youth. In the event most of them were already highly enjoyable with good fruit and a fair degree of suppleness. Certainly tannins were there but mostly not aggressive and in some cases round and “enrobés”. Use of wood was on the whole far better judged than I had feared and there were very few cases of disagreeable malt and caramel notes. This may partly be a function of an exceptional 2005 vintage, which predominated at the tastings, but new methods of working may also contribute. Still, I have a sneaking concern that some traditionally Cahors firmly back-boned savoury austerity allied to leather and tar flavours may be being lost. Nevertheless, even in this present guise Cahors remains a firmly structured, savoury and quite acidic wine with an Atlantic profile suitable for accompanying not only the hearty goose and duck orientated regional fare but also a lot of North-Western European dishes.

Loire Malbec is quite distinctive and clearly Atlantic in character and is lighter and less structured than Cahors but can be beautifully fresh and savoury. I did not feel able to detect a specifically Bordeaux Malbec character.

Naturally Argentinian Malbec mostly lies in a sweeter and thicker textured register than Cahors with frequent peppery notes towards the finish. The best examples such as the Gran Reserva from Fabre & Montmayou ally to this a real class and elegance. In general I think that Argentinian Malbec would be a better pairing for aromatic Mediterranean, exotic and fusion fare, although I have had some clashes when pairing it with aggressive spices.

The tasting catalogue only lists Cahors exhibitors and no wines so apologies if the names of “foreign” exhibitors from Bordeaux, the Loire, Spain and Mendoza are incorrectly spelt and if wine details are incomplete in some cases.

(I failed to taste two leading Cahors growers; Lagrézette not present on the bridge and Cosse Maisonneuve, overlooked in my prior research. I bought three assorted bottles from the former’s shop but they need some time to settle down.)

CAHORS

Château Croze de Pys 2005. A fortuitously delicious starter; lovely complex red fruit, touches of spice, supple with flattering mouth-feel; 16/20 right now. http://www.chateaucrozedepys.com/

Primo Palatum – Xavier Copel Mythologia? 2005? Dark fruit aromas with rich but integrated oak, full bodied and structured with good savoury acidity; 15.5/20 + potential. http://www.primopalatum.com/GB/cadres/p ... ccueil.htm

Château de Cayrou/Clos Gamot – Famille Jouffreau
Château de Cayrou 2005 showed nice fresh meaty aromas and a supple body (30% Merlot) ; 15/20. Clos Gamot 2005 had more grip and structure but also good flesh and fruit; 15.5/20. Clos Gamot 2002, drunk at the hotel restaurant, was a major disappointment; first bottle (sent back) had no aromas, no taste except a slightly rancid tang (and ? hints of cardboard) but aggressively dry tannins; the second bottle (half consumed) was scarcely better with equally aggressive dry tannins but with no rancid tang or cardboard hints and with some traces of fruit after a little time; just conceivably in a closed phase but I wouldn’t bet on it - 12/20. http://pagesperso-orange.fr/music.olt/jouffreau.htm


Château Lamartine
Cuvée Particulière 2005 showed somewhat closed aromas with meat notes, excellent depth, substance and structure; promising and potentially 16/20+. Expression 2005 showed more obvious wood notes but they were well integrated in the round fruity aromas and the palate was deeper, smoother and longer than the previous yet with good structure; nice now but potentially 17/20+. http://www.cahorslamartine.com/index_eng.php


Château du Cèdre

Cedrus ? was quite fleshy and fruity but somewhat light; 14/20. Prestige 2005 was several notches above the previous showing altogether more fruit, depth, structure and length; 16/20+. Le Cèdre 2005 was quite closed aromatically but on the palate was a clear notch above the previous; rounder, richer, deeper and longer with a marked but well integrated oak patina; potentially 17/20++. GC 2005 was closed aromatically but showed massively profound matter, ripe tannic structure and great length; in spite of lavish oak ageing I was little conscious of the wood; difficult to drink now but I am confident of 18/20+ potential.

Barrel samples were poured. Le Cèdre 2007 showed rich fruity aromas laced with spice and vanilla and a wonderfully rich velvety palate with perfectly covered (enrobés) tannins; 17/20 as a photo flash with obvious potential. GC 2007 was quite closed aromatically but huge, fruity and velvety on the palate; more drinkable than GC 2005 but less seductive than Le Cèdre right now; 18/20 potential I guess. I love barrel samples like this and sometimes wish that the wines’ development could be frozen at this point.

An outstanding estate. http://www.chateauducedre.com/

Genesis – Michel Maratuech
I was intrigued because this grower was announcing “no sulfites”. 2006 showed savoury fruit with orange hints which I often think is a precursor of rapid decline but 2002 was pretty similar so that cannot be the case here; 14.5/20 for both. 2003 was richer with prune notes; Maratuech gave me a square of chocolate claiming an excellent pairing; too acidic for that in my view; 14.5/20

Château de Chambert
This estate has recently changed hands, has engaged Stéphane Derencourt as consultant and is supposed to be on the up. I used to enjoy its wines in the 80s when it was stocked by the Nicolas chain. 2005 (85% Malbec, 15% Merlot – 1/3 new oak for 12 months) was jammy and tannic; it needs time for the tannins but will that tame the jam? 14.5/20. Orphée 2005 (100% Malbec – 50% new oak) was aromatically somewhat closed, showed rich matter and tannins and was tad short; 15/20. The 2007 barrel sample showed nice fruit aromas, more marked acid and tannin than Cèdre and a curious after-taste; 14.5/20? A second bottle was more closed but fresher with less after-taste. http://www.chateaudechambert.com/en/index.htm


Clos Triguedina – Jean-Luc Baldès
This is one of the oldest estates but according to some has been underperforming recently. I found nothing to complain about. Triguedina 2006 (75% Malbec, 20% Merlot, 5% Tannat aged in used barrels) was fruity and quite soft; 15.5/20. Probus 2005 (100% Malbec – 1/3 new wood) showed aromas of plum and leather, good matter and some noble austerity but hints of caramel (wood ageing) and prune on the finish; 16/20 ++ potential when wood integrates. New Black Wine 2004 (100% Malbec 100 year vines, heated to 55°C for one night, aged in Allier new oak) shows perfumed aromas, a soft attack, attractively savoury flavours, a tannic finish and good persistence; 16/20. New Black Wine 2005 was aromatically much more closed with perhaps more impressive matter and rounder but also some candied and caramel (wood) touches; 16/20+ when wood integrates. I am not quite sure what to make of New Black Wine so I bought a mature bottle (1997) to try at home. http://www.jlbaldes.com/index_en.php#

Château Haut-Monplaisir
Pascal Verhaeghe of Château du Cèdre acts as consultant here. All wines are 100% Malbec. Tradition 2005 showed pure fruit aromas with a nice tang and an attractive softly fruity palate with prune touches and good grip; 15.5/20. Prestige 2005 (25% new oak) is deeper, sweeter, aromatically more closed with touches of caramel on the finish; I prefer Tradition at present but 16/20 when wood integrates. Pur Plaisir 2005 (100% new oak) shows sweet red fruit and vanilla aromas and a smooth rich palate with ripe structure and backbone; 16.5/20. The 2007 barrel sample is beautifully spicy and softly fruity with covered tannins; 15.5/20 right now. I like this estate; the wines are good QPR – approx € 6,50 for Tradition and € 10 for Prestige.

Domaine du Garinet
This estate is owned by a charming English couple, Michael and Susan Spring. Classique 2001 showed nicely evolved medium weight pure fruit, good grip and a touch of prune on the finish; 15.5/20.



BORDEAUX – Côtes de Bourg

Château La Poste 2005 (75% Malbec, 25% Merlot – 9 months in new wood) showed good fruity matter which covered well the wood ageing; 15.5/20.

Château Sauman Cuvée Emotion 2005 (70% Malbec, 30% Merlot) showed orange notes in its aromas and good fruit and structure; 15.5/20.

These two showed more backbone than Bourg Merlot dominated cuvées but were somewhat smoother and blander than good Cahors.



TOURAINE

Domaine Sauvète
Les Arpents d’Antan 2005 (100% Malbec – Macération carboniaque) was deliciously gluggable with tobacco notes and tangy fruit; 16/20 now. Privilège 2005 (80% Malbec, 20% Cabernet franc) showed fine fruit with notes of leather and spice; 16/20 now. Privilège 2000 was drier and more acidic; 13.5/20.



MENDOZA

Alta Vista
Premium 2005? (60 year vines no barrel ageing) was smooth, rich and sweet with a peppery, oily finish; 15.5/20. Grande Reserve 2005? was even richer, smoother and sweeter with vanilla notes and a peppery finish; 16/20 when the vanilla notes recede. http://www.altavistawines.com/


Vinorum
2005 was also smooth and rich but less peppery and with some caramel notes; 15/20.

Don Cristobal
1492 Oak Reserve 2005 showed deep round fruit and vanilla aromas, a weighty palate with pepper and some bitter caramel on the finish; 15/20. http://www.doncristobal.com.ar/

Fabre & Montmayou
2006 showed nice deep fruit with a savoury touch; 15.5/20. Gran Reserva 2005 shared with Le Cèdre and GC shared the honour of being my wine of the show; nice leathery notes in the dark fruit aromas and a smooth velvety linear yet deep palate with power, distinction and elegance; 17.5/20. http://www.domainevistalba.com/fabre/index2.html

The no-show of the Masi exhibitors was disappointing after David Cobbold had whetted our appetites for their Corbec – a Corvina/Malbec blend made by the “ripasso” technique.
Last edited by Tim York on Sat Apr 12, 2008 9:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Rahsaan

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Re: WTN: International Malbec Days 3 - The wines

by Rahsaan » Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:54 pm

Tim York wrote:Gamot 2002, drunk at the hotel restaurant, was a major disappointment


02 was a really tough year down there, no?

Glad to hear you liked the 05.


Tim York wrote:Clos Triguedina – Jean-Luc Baldès This is one of the oldest estates but according to some has been underperforming recently.


Underperforming or just too modern?
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Re: WTN: International Malbec Days 3 - The wines

by Tim York » Sat Apr 12, 2008 3:45 am

Rahsaan wrote:
Tim York wrote:Gamot 2002, drunk at the hotel restaurant, was a major disappointment


02 was a really tough year down there, no?

Glad to hear you liked the 05.



In Bordeaux and a lot of the South West, 2002 was probably the least interesting vintage for reds so far this decade, but the fine autumn should have been especially favourable to Malbec. I guess that it is a vintage which shows up the skills of estates. I hope so, because I came back with bottles of Le Cèdre and Lagrézette Dame d'Honneur.

Rahsaan wrote:
Tim York wrote:Clos Triguedina – Jean-Luc Baldès This is one of the oldest estates but according to some has been underperforming recently.


Underperforming or just too modern?


It is notably Bettane who had been underwhelmed lately. I don't regard Triguedina as the most "modern" of the Cahors leaders. Their basic cuvée sees no new wood; Probus is quite oaky but the 95 I noted a few weeks ago was very fine albeit still with some residual but acceptable woody perfumes. The New Black Wine is an oddity. I think that Château du Cèdre is far more hedonistic and "modern" with its rich soft fruit, round tannins and fine oak patina but is remarkably successful in this style; I doubt, however, whether Otto would like their wines.
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David M. Bueker

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Re: WTN: International Malbec Days 3 - The wines

by David M. Bueker » Sat Apr 12, 2008 10:50 am

I've had some interesting (if hard and tannic - no shock there) bottles of 2002 Cahors. A bottle of 2002 Chateau Haut-Serre made a very credible showing in a blind tasting at my place last October, holding its head high against Bordeaux & California. I was recently gifted a 3-pack of 2002 Chateau Leret-Monpezat, but have yet to open a bottle. Maybe today...
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