While they might not know it, many people are already familiar with Philippe Bernède: his Clos La Coutale Cahors has long been a staple at KLWM, its iconic label and characteristic inky color symbols of affordable, terroir-driven refreshment for more than thirty years. Philippe recently acquired the nearby Château La Grave, expanding his holdings and offering a contrasting approach to Cahors that shares the incredible value of La Coutale. La Grave is one of the rare Cahors to consist exclusively of the native Malbec, or Côt, as it is locally known. Without any Merlot to soften it, this Cahors is decidedly old-fashioned, with a deep black robe and earthy, chewy tannins to frame the ripe, juicy fruit that seems to jump out of the glass. Enjoy this rustic country charmer anytime within the next several years, and for the complete Cahors experience, serve it with a crispy fried duck confit.. –Anthony Lynch
Deep in southwest France, amidst dramatic cliffs, the Lot River slowly snakes its way along the valley floor, coiling covetously around the town of Cahors. A former Roman town, Cahors was also as a center of commerce during the Middle Ages. Among the many specialties that have brought pride to the region, the constant has been its wine. Cahors is also the birthplace of Cot, the grape commonly known as Malbec. Philippe Bernède is no stranger to the south-west as his family has farmed vines here for many generations. His Château La Grave stands out as it is 100% Malbec, a rarity here in Cahors. La Grave is an incredible value on multiple levels—it is a hearty, full-bodied wine to drink now and a top candidate for your cellar.
Tucked away beneath Bordeaux and buffeted by the Pyrenees to the south, this expansive region of France, commonly known as the Southwest, is home to a diverse number of viticulture and gastronomic traditions as well as cultures. Though Cahors might be the most well known (and easiest to pronounce) appellation from the Southwest, the importance and influence of French Basque culture cannot be underestimated. Irouléguy, the primary appellation of the Basque region of France produces full-bodied, hearty red wines, produced from Tannat grape (known for its tannic qualities). Dry whites from Irouléguy are also produced from Petit and Gros Manseng. Northeast of Irouléguy is the sweet wine-producing appellation of Jurançon. These moelleux wines made from Petit and Gros Manseng have a storied history in France, from being the first wine region to have a vineyard classification, which dates back to the 154th century, to being preferred wine of royalty dating back to the 16th century as well as the French poet Colette.
I want you to realize once and for all: Even the winemaker does not know what aging is going to do to a new vintage; Robert Parker does not know; I do not know. We all make educated (hopefully) guesses about what the future will bring, but guesses they are. And one of the pleasures of a wine cellar is the opportunity it provides for you to witness the evolution of your various selections. Living wines have ups and downs just as people do, periods of glory and dog days, too. If wine did not remind me of real life, I would not care about it so much.
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