We all know that Argentinian Malbec has been, and still is in some respect, all the rage and trending on every restaurant list in town. When it’s actually a grape you can pronounce, it makes one look fairly intelligent when ordering wine! Surely I jest you say? Wine lists can be intimidating anyway, and when seeing multiple unpronounceable grape names or places, the overwhelmed diner sighs with relief upon reading the word “malbec”, and rather than reading any further (and not wanting to look stupid), will just order THAT. And yes, in all likelihood, it will be from Argentina. The Argentinians have certainly cornered the market on malbec, and good for them! They’ve made it their ‘signature’ grape and the big, bold, fruity, tannic new world style is certainly something that the consumer seeks.
But where did Malbec actually come from? It definitely didn’t start in Argentina, but rather in France (like many grapes). In fact, it’s one of the original Bordeaux blend grapes (along with merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, petit verdot and carmenere), and there is some still used in the Bordeaux region, most often in blends from the right bank. But another great region in France known for malbec wine is Cahors.
I’ve actually changed my selling tune when folks come in asking for malbec. I no longer assume they mean Argentina, but rather I ask: “would you like malbec from France or Argentina?” Sometimes I get funny looks that tell me I’m crazy for even suggesting something other than Argentina, but I think I get those looks because many had no idea you could get malbec from France! I have about five of them here on the shelf at the store, and if you want to change-up your malbec, give Cahors a try!
2012 Mas des Etoiles, which loosely translated, means ‘House of Stars’, this winery was started up by Arnaud Bladinières and David Liorit in 2007, two friends who joined winemaking forces in making white wine from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, along with 100% Malbec from the AOC Cahors. Super balanced with fine grain tannins and medium plus acidity, the quintessential plum and black raspberry flavours and aromas of the malbec grape are here, yet there is no overextraction and the oak use (18 months in French oak) gives the right amount of toast, cloves. mocha and wood bark earthiness without overpowering the natural fruit flavours. Hints of graphite and forest floor round out this wine. It’s still a malbec so very dark in the glass. Fantastic! Reasonably priced too at $30.
Malbec is usually never the first grape I reach for, but I’m never opposed to drinking or sharing a good Cahors! Santé!