This wine comes from the “other” south of France, the Southwest—a stunningly beautiful, well-preserved region. Lesser known than Provence or the Riviera, it is perhaps most famous for its luxury products, such as Armagnac, foie gras, and truffles. While those products have their merits, of course, locals have long enjoyed simpler pleasures as well. Take Clos La Coutale’s Cahors, with its reputation that dates back six generations of making drinkable, affordable, reliable, everyday rouge. Philippe Bernède, who has headed the estate for more than three decades, provides a red that is full of expression and fruit when poured into the glass (thank you, Merlot), with darker spice, licorice, and cassis lurking behind (hats off to you, Malbec). Young, it is juicy, smooth, and fresh. As it ages, keep an eye out for hints of some of the region’s more famous goods.
Today, Cahors’ jack-of-all-trades and Renaissance man, Philippe Bernède, continues the family tradition with both heart and ingenuity. Philippe’s vines rest upon the gentle slopes that rise up from the Lot River. Over the years, Philippe has tinkered with the house blend to achieve a greater equilibrium. Today, the blend consists of 80% Malbec and 20% Merlot, creating an intense wine that juggles elegant rusticity with everyday drinkability. Coutale has quite a record of age-worthiness as well and Philippe is not afraid to pull out older vintages of his wines alongside much more expensive Bordeaux. They stand up pretty well! Nothing beats bécasse (woodcock) or cassoulet with an old Coutale, but a simple steak fits the bill just fine.
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