Posted by: tomciocco | December 22, 2010

NOT YOUR PADRE’S MALBEC

With the possible exception of Shiraz (Syrah) with Australia, I can’t think of any viticultural country that is more closely associated with a particular grape variety like Argentina is with Malbec. And rightly so. Regions like Mendoza and San Juan provide dramatically unique terroirs that seem to embody a more perfect home for the vine than its true one in Europe…

But this isn’t about Argentina. It’s about one of the original places in Malbec’s native France that always believed in and nurtured Malbec – The Loire Valley. Most folks that study these sorts of things agree that the Malbec vine is probably native to some patch of southwestern France if not specifically to Bordeaux. It’s almost never stated on a label, but there are many fine Bordeaux that still and always have blended in 10%-15% Malbec into their Cabernets and Merlot.

In places like the green, sweetly temperate Touraine region in the Loire however, Malbec is given the same pride of place that it is in extreme, high altitude Argentina, and boy does it show- both in terms of the (mutual) belief in the variety as a stand-alone grape, and the marked divergence of the results ! If you think that you know what Malbec is all about, wines like this one might cause you to re-assess everything…If Argentine Malbec is typically dark, chewy, and dense, Touraine Malbec is far more aromatic, bright, and nervous. Long life to them both.

We drank this complex, expressive,and somewhat quirky wine with a turkey\rice\egg drop vegetable soup (no pic.), and then some home made crepes with a hash of mixed mushrooms, roasted tiny dice of parsnip, and ham rolled up inside, baked in a  Raclette cheese sauce.

Jean Francois Merieau Touraine Malbec “Cent Visages” 2007

Slightly “dusty” brown/black purple color. Quixotic nose of lilies , bruised ripe strawberries, barnyard, toasted bread and shoe polish. The wine has a medium-light body with a fresh, crunchy fruit character, but with a lovely round, ripe layer as a conterweight. Notable, stemmy tannins nicely contain clear flavors of blueberry/blackberry preserves, spice cookies, and cola syrup. The florality from the nose echoes in the fruity finish. A wonderfully quirky fusion of elegance and rusticity. 

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