Helen’s blog

Thoughts and tastings from Helen Savage, wine writer.

Cahors: Malbec just keeps getting better

Although I’ve  bought and enjoyed Cahors for more years than it’s wise to admit, I realise that I still have a lot to learn about it. I’m well aware that the general standards of wine-making have improved markedly over the last twenty years (I remember some real horrors, some of which even found their way into respectable guides like Hachette). Sometimes, however, the recent fashion for very expensive special cuvées has  failed to impress me. I think that they sometimes try a bit too hard. Cahors is an appellation where price and quality do not always co-incide.  Or to be more positive, it’s an appellation in which it’s possible to find some hot bargains. And some of these prove just as satisfying as the big, beefy, ‘let’s imitate Argentina’ specials.

One source of remarkably good wine is the Domaine de la Banière at Caix near Luzech. I’ve not visited for a few years, but I’ve always enjoyed their wines, which are still cheap enough to buy by the case without the danger of breaking the bank.  A few days ago I found a bottle of 1997, which I opened rather imagining that I would end up using it as the basis of a meaty stew. But it was magnificent: full of still fresh, plummy, spicy fruit, perfectly balanced and a real treat to wash down that most south-western of dishes,  a still pink duck breast. Will some of the over-extracted monsters that cost upwards of €25, even at the vineyard,  age as well as this? I doubt it.

One estate which has make a bit of a splash with its big-style wines is Jean-Luc Baldés’s Clos Triguedina. I admit that I did not take at all to the 2003 version of his amazing ‘The New Black Wine’ when I tatsed it last in London, and  I don’t think it’s a wine destined to age gracefully; but when I visited there last week and tasted the 2001 I was far more impressed than I’d expected to be. Maybe just being there helped to soften me a little, but I warmed to its baked fig, damson-jam character. I also liked the more conventional Price Probus 2001, which seemed much fresher and splendidly silky. But the outstanding redwine , for me, is their less exalted Clos Triguedina. The 2005 is magnificent, with bags of spicy fruit, superb freshness and real elegance. It will surely age wonderfully well for at least twenty more years.

I look forward to going back in the summer and learning a little more …

One Response to “Cahors: Malbec just keeps getting better”

  1. Roger Cornwell says:

    Have you tasted the Côtes du Brulhois? It’s a VDQS, not a full AOC, but Jean and I have had some very nice wines there and the quality and style overlaps with Cahors, which is 75km north east, and as you would expect the prices are lower. We went (I think) to the Cave de Donzac, see http://www.cave-de-donzac.com/ for more information.