Despite its popularity, I’ve never loved Argentinian Malbec. To me, there never seemed to be anything special about it. Fruit-forward and smooth, it’s a good “house red”-easy to drink and good with many styles of food- but not something I would serve to impress anyone.
I recently tried this Clos Siguier Cahors, a Malbec from the grape’s place of origin, which was a very different experience. Darker, tart, and full of tannins, this Malbec from Cahors expressed the region’s terroir and climate. Malbec is the most important grape variety in Cahors, an area of France east of Bordeaux. Merlot and Tannat can also be found there. In Cahors, Malbec is called ‘côt.’ Wines from this region have been described as “black” wines because of their dark color and high tannin levels. These wines are drinkable but can also age for several years.
Like Merlot, Malbec is a thin-skinned grape sensitive to rot and frost. Malbec does well in Southwestern France where the cool breezes of the Atlantic Ocean prevent the grapes from rotting and warm daytime temperatures allow the grapes to fully ripen. Limestone soil helps maintain acidity in the grapes late into the growing season, leading to a more complex wine.
The Clos Siguier 2014 Cahors is imported by Jenny & Francois, renowned importers of natural wines. Clos Siguier wines are organic, the grapes are handpicked, and this wine is unfiltered and vegan-friendly. I bought it from the Natural Wine Company in Brooklyn and it was a good value at about $15.
Like some natural wines, this was a bit cloudy in the first glass. It had a deep red, with red fruit, mostly strawberry, on the nose. It was tart and medium-bodied, full of fruit but also tannic. The wine was a blend of 95% Malbec and 5% Tannat and I could taste the influence of that small amount of Tannat and its added color and firm tannins (that mellowed for me on the second day of drinking).
The acid makes this a wine I would drink with a variety of food. Because it is higher in tannins, most recommendations center on red meat pairings. Duck is a traditional Cahors pairing, but this wine would be great with a vegetarian chili, any dish containing grilled mushrooms, or even pizza. Dishes including truffles are also a traditional French pairing and I look forward to experimenting with that possibility.