Posted by: tomciocco | December 8, 2012

WHERE THE SOUTHWEST MEETS LANGUEDOC

It’s often said that two heads are better than one, and when it comes to people I’d usually agree, but the subject here is wine, and in this world, it ain’t necessarily so…As I’ve banged on about before, Piedmontese winemakers and winemaking tradition is all about single-varietal wines. Blended wines from Piedmont have recently produced some exciting results, and there’s nothing to say that blending can’t be a broad, new horizon for Piedmontese winemaking, but single-variety wines still heavily dominate the scene. And as I’ve also banged on about in prior posts, the Portuguese are the oenological universe’s master blenders – nary a lone grape bottling exists anywhere from Minho to the deepest Algarve…

On some level though, you can forget all that. Tonight’s wine is from France, albeit a funny little corner of it. The actual name of the appellation is Cabardes (ka-bar-DEZ) which is an almost unknown area even amongst top cork dorks. It’s only existed as an appellation since 1999, and it sits geographically right on the cusp, as the title says, of Bordeaux and its southwest sidekicks like Gaillac and Marcillac, and the heat, light, and sea of Languedoc proper. The only thing known about the area – even to the French themselves – is the magnificently rambling and crenellated castle of Carcassonne.

In essence this wine is a blend of two regions that both have traditions of producing blended wines. The soils in the area are quite eclectic, and the region is climatically moody as well, with some cold and damp characteristics associated with the southwest, and some of the dry, sunny traits typical of the Languedoc  region, with plenty of wind to push it all around.

So here’s the clincher – the full tale of the tape for this wine is found where else but…the blend: 5 even 20% slices of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec representing the southwest, and Grenache and Syrah carrying the banner for the Languedoc. Now that’s a confluence, and a good one too…

This generous, nicely faceted wine went to the table with a light cream of carrot soup with clementine orange, and a big, beautiful, oven-crusty mess of a casserole consisting of ground lamb, egg noodles, potatoes, peas, tomatoes, celery, sheep cheese, and a mess of herbs.
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Chateau de Pennautier Cabardes 2010

Very deep blackish garnet color with slight browning at the rim. Clean, gregarious nose of black cherry, strawberry preserves, juniper berry, coffee, tomato paste, dried rose petals, and a hint of cumin. In the mouth the wine is slightly pulpy in texture, with a rich, fairly concentrated, and quite powerful, firmly tannic frame that supports ripe fruit flavors of black raspberry, currants, and plum butter, with flavors of dark chocolate, allspice, nori seaweed, and wet stones following. Soft, fresh, and long finish.

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