Old loves they say, die hard. And when it comes to wine, there's no older love of the rare, obscure or esoteric wine in my past than the wines from Cahors in France. Long before the Argentines were selling Malbec by the ton and making headway in the USA for well priced, well made and well aging reds, the region of Cahors was a mecca for Malbec (and merlot too.)
My first exposure the famed "black wine of Cahors" was Clos Triguedina, a wine imported then and still now by Vineyard Brands. I recall buying a bottle in Manhattan Beach at a wine shop/deli and bringing it to a BYOB dinner in L.A on Sawtelle Avenue back in 1987 that was assembled by Jim Kronman, then the sysop of the Compuserve Wine Forum. Back then, and today, my passion for finding wines that were viewed as legendary, but under appreciated, was part of the game of being a wine hunter.
A few years later, after moving to SoCal I renewed my love of Cahors with the 1990 Clos la Coutale as part of a case of gems from Kermit Lynch. Over time the Coutale would be the "let me surprise you" wine that I would pull out during the usual Saturday BBQ parties as its' "unknown status" made it one wine that would cause people to not ever guess what it was, with thoughts ranging from Bordeaux becuase of its body, bouquet and taste to Argentina or even some suggesting it was from Australia. The one region no one ever guessed was Cahors, while some even guessed it may have been from Paso Robles due to the inky dark black color.
Yesterday I grabbed a bottle of the 2016 la Coutale and renewed my love affair with the ethereal red. Talk about a value priced gem. At less than $14.00 the wine packs more punch and joy than wines at three times the price. Much like "The Pairing", the 2016 Clos la Coutale is one of those wines that you start by saying, just a glass, and as you work your way through dinner, you end up realizing that you and your friends have finished the entire bottle.
Incredible body. Great length. Stunning nose all came to mind. Red raspberry, black currants, black cherry, blackberry, black plums all on the palate. How good? It was gone before we knew it. Unlike the Coutales of the past though, this was way more approachable and an early drinker made in dare I say, a more modern style. Then again, 2016 was such a great year across France, with very forward fruit, and a harmonious blend of gentle, well balanced tannins.
The 2016 Clos la Coutale is still in distribution across the USA, and given how low this is priced, and how this wine is drinking, this wine will out perform just about anything in that range.