Malbec match-up

How do winemaking and terroir affect malbec? We put this to the test recently with a leading wine from Argentina’s Mendoza region and the Cahors in France where the grape is also known as cot.

On my trip to Mendoza earlier this year, one of the most exciting wineries I visited was the Clos de los Siete project. Seven French investors, including many wine making families such as Rothschild (Lafite) and Cuvelier (Poyferré) joined forces under the teutalage of Michel Rolland, the “flying winemaker” par excellence who is also a stakeholder. They bought a vast plot of 850 heactares (over 2000 acres) in the Val de Uco at the base of the Andes and planted a small sea of vines, mostly malbec.

Each of the families either makes or will make their own wine but collectively they pool some grapes to make the Clos de los Siete wine, available for about $15 (Find this wine). This 2003 is mostly malbec but also includes some cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and some syrah (!).

Against this wine, I poured blind the 2002 Clos la Coutale, which I bought in NYC for about $12 (Find this wine). From Cahors, the Clos La Coutale, a blend of mostly malbec with a little merlot and cab franc, is imported to the US by Kermit Lynch.

One wine exploded with rich aromas and flavors of violets, blackberries and tobacco from the glass. It had a round, soft complex mouthfeel and a good finish. The second wine was inky dark in color, and had a much more truncated flavor range with a certain tartness on the finish.

After the unveiling, wine #1 was the Clos de los Siete and wine #2 was the Cahors.

Although the malbec from Mendoza showed better that evening, a note of caution is necessary because of the 15 percent alcohol stated on the label. It’s big. The complexity would probably make a great BBQ wine for those tired of zinfandel.

This wine reminded me of a Cadillac Escalade: it’s fun to take it for a spin once, but who wants to own it and pay the gas bill? Drink too much of this one and you may be paying for it the next day.

* * * * *

Now in France, I found a bottle of the Clos la Coutale 2003 and tried it. The bottle showed much better–more full-bodied, more round, more complex, and even “bigger.” Pity I couldn’t taste this much better vintage against the Clos de los Siete. Especially since I got it for 7 euros ($8.90). Ah well, I’ll throw it in a future malbec match-up with some more wines from the two regions.

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4 Responses to “Malbec match-up”

  1. Thats a good idea for a tasting match up Doc. I have always been interested in comparing grapes that aren’t as popular in France, vs, a country where it grows pretty well. The first example having always been Malbec, the other in my mind has always been Carmenere.

  2. Clos de Los 7 is a cross-dresser. Something like a supermarket wine with some “pointuable” characteristics. A lot of it is made and believe me… it does not age… at all. My 03’s are gone, no fruit left. It is a wine to be drunk on release and, to be honest, I’m bored with it.

    On the other hand, the CL7 group does some really good wine. Cuvelier des Andes (Gran Cru), Linda Flor (malbec and Chard which is one of the best from South America).

    Look for Punto Final from Bodegas Renacer. The reserva has a little too much wood for my taste but is a good wine.

  3. Paulo-
    I agree–the Cuvelier des Andes was my favorite wine when I visted the property a few months ago.

  4. […] service are trademarks. From the moment you arrive, Mario will make you feel at home, help your select a nice Argentinean wine from the cellar, and will take your order from the excellent Menu available. Paola will herself […]


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