You may know the varietal as Argentina’s best export, but its roots are French. Get to know the grape’s more structured, transatlantic cousins with some of our favorite French Malbecs available in the U.S. [...]
Argentinian producers have done a terrific job of marketing Malbec as a concept, with the word itself in big type on bottles—but in much of Europe, the grapes aren’t necessarily listed on wine labels, or they go by names Americans have never heard of. So it takes a little more investigation and effort to understand Malbec’s French cousins. [...]
Luckily, Malbecs from France’s Cahors region, where it’s the only game in town, are much easier to track down. Cahors is just east and slightly south of Bordeaux—where, not incidentally, Malbec was the primary grape before 1860—and it’s known for producing intense, tannic and inky-black Malbecs. It’s one of France’s most underappreciated areas, without a doubt. [...]
It took the wine list at Cherche Midi, Keith McNally’s new bistro on New York’s Lower East Side, to acquaint me with my favorite Cahors of all, Chateau Du Cedre’s Le Cedre 2011 ($55). Everything this producer makes is worth seeking out, including Chateau du Cedre Cahors 2011 ($24), with its hearty black plum taste.
But the pitch black Le Cedre, the chateau’s go-for-broke premium product, boasts a host of contradictions, and as in all great wines, they are all elegantly synthesized. It’s rich, but not heavy. It’s full of sweet black fruit flavors—cherry, blackberry—but it has a long, precise finish that does not weigh you down. A note of tar keeps things interesting. And it paired fantastically well with the prime rib at Cherche Midi. These are red-meat wines through and through.
If you’ve been living on a diet of “Solid Red Wine,” Le Cedre is a first-class ticket to the next level of Malbec.
Extract from What to Drink Now: Getting to Know French Malbecs
By Ted Loos on March 26, 2015