JANUARY SAUVAGE–COMBEL LE SERRE CAHORS CHATEAU COMBEL LE SERRE 2017
Though most Malbec-lovers are unaware, if you’ve shopped with us, you likely know that this now-famous variety hails originally not from South America but, rather, Southwestern France. Yes, though Argentina and Chile is where Malbec found its fame, the village and surrounding vineyards of Cahors is its native home. As in many parts of southern France, Cahors has historically been a wine producing region dominated by big, mechanical viticulture. Though the tradition of small domaine production has existed for centuries, most Cahors you’ll come across is produced in massive quantities, with a quantity over quantity approach. When it comes to grower Cahors, we have always loved that of Château Combel le Serre the best. Here vines are farmed not only responsibly but by hand, and a more elegant expression of the often-brawny Malbec comes to the fore.
Malbec, known as Côt or Auxerrois around here, is a variety that can strike two very different chords in the glass depending on how it is treated in the vineyard and the cellar. Give it a lot of sunlight and heat, pick it late, and focus on a lot of extraction in winemaking and you will have a big, earthy, chewy red that will rival a good Bordeaux. Pick a bit earlier and focus on infusion rather than extraction, as our friend Julien Ilbert at the Château does, on the other hand and you will have a whole differenct experience. At Combel le Serre, Malbec reaches high highs reminiscent some of our favorite wines–elegant like Red Burgundy, drinkable like Cru Beaujolais, herbal like, well, Cahors. His wines are unmistakably from his region, yet with a degree of finesse that no one else in Cahors has yet achieved. The ‘Château’ Cahors bottling we have here is one of his best parcels planted to limestone-based soils that tend to give wines of considerable freshness. Drink it cool and with charcuterie.