Satellite Wine Club, February 2018
Chateau du Cèdre - 2014 Cahors, Fr
Lieu Dit - 2015 Malbec, Happy Canyon Vineyard, Santa Ynez, CA
Happy February Lovers,
It’s me again, here to blather and expound for many paragraphs! This month’s rant focuses on a little known fact: Malbec’s first home is France, not Argentina! Few people seem to know nor do they care all that much, but dammit I think it’s important to know! And while I’m on the subject, it’s called COT in the context of its French examples and I’ll be calling it such here. Remember folks: Malbec from Argentina, Cot from France. Impress your friends with this newfound truth!
“So what’s the deal with this Cot, eh?”... It’s adaptable, vigorous, it’s deep, dark, it’s crunchy, intense, it’s mineral, fruity, piney; It’s everything & it’s for everyone... it’s not just from Argentina anymore!
Cot evolved into a distinct subspecies in the Southwestern French town of Cahors. The varietal is often called Cor or Cors in the history books as a bastardization of Cahors. Generations of hardworking and hard drinking French renamed it Cot. While the grape is grown to great success in Loire and Bordeaux, there is simply no better place for it than Cahors. It has fallen largely off the radar of wine buyers in the US in favor of cheap, homogenous Argentinian Malbec, however, the informed consumer benefits from increible values from this less appreciated appellation. You better believe you’re currently riding that gravy train, winestronaut.
Today we show two examples, based in an old world approach to Cot. Our first wine plays Grandad in the selection. Chateau du Cèdre from Cahors is classic. One of the highest regarded producers in this centuries old appellation, it is the reference wine for French Malbec. Deep, Powerful, Centered, and yet so Fresh! From the same philosophical world but a wildly different location, Lieu Dit’s Malbec from Happy Canyon, here in Santa Barbara County is a rendition with its heart firmly in France. Pulling inspiration from both the deep examples of Cahors and the more buoyant, carbonically fermented Loire Valley, Lieu Dit has nailed Malbec in Santa Barbara.
Let’s dive in and explore this oft-neglected varietal. We ain’t drinking no bulk Argentine wine! This is Malbec, Cot, hell… we can even call is Auxerrois if we’re feeling spicy… but that’s a talk for another day :)
Lieu Dit - 2015 Happy Canyon Malbec, Santa Ynez Valley, CA
Oh, hello Lieu Dit. Can you be legendary in your 30’s? Eric Railsback and Justin Willet suggest that it is possible. These two young guns got their start in Santa Barbara’s wine and food world. Railsback began his adventures with Hungry Cat, Wine Cask, Les Marchands, Osteria Mozza, and SF’s RN74 - Picking up a world of knowledge along the way and. Willet dove into winemaking after college at UCSB, starting at Arcadian then building a winery of his own called Tyler. He now works making wine with a litany of producers including local favorite Wenzlau. The pair spent years drinking together, travelling together, and now, making wine together. Based in their mutual love of fermented juice of the highest quality, especially French juice, they created Lieu Dit. These guys aren’t just guys, they are bonafide badass wine guys.
The grapes in this wine are from Santa Ynez’s Happy Canyon Vineyard, a vineyard which produces wonderful examples of Southwestern French Varietals, right here in our own backyard. This is no exception.
Produced whole-cluster, with no fining or filtering, and aged in 5+ year old barrels. This is a reflection of classic Malbec wines from Cheverny in the Loire Valley. Whole cluster but never lacking in depth, we learn something about the power of Cot. It don’t need no destemmer! Depth is in its DNA. While it’s made so simply, this wine is so complex. Deep black cherry and plum, tobacco and flint, violets pressed till they weep. It is alive! Feel that Acidity? It’s intense and fills the palate and lifts all the deep complexion of fruit.
Eat it up with a stew, let it replace your brew, drink it with a Drew! This wine is Malbec from Santa Barbara, made in the style of French Cot by two (overqualified) young guns. I may sound crazy (not unusual), but I think we need more Santa Barbaran Malbec. I hope you agree!
$35 @ Satellite SB
Chateau du Cèdre - 2014 Cahors, FR
Mentioned in Jancis Robinson’s “Wine Grapes” as one of the greatest producers of Cot in all of Cahors, Chateau du Cèdre is it. The establishment if you will.. This stuff is insane.
Founded in 1958 by Charles Verhaeghe and wife Marie-Thérèse with just one hectare of Cot, this winery has become something so much more. Now with just under 30 hectares under production, one incredible limestone-rich ‘scree’ and alluvial pebbles, Cèdre owns some of the best plots in the region. These soils devigorate the growth of the Cot and force intensity out from the grapes as they struggle to gather valuable nutrients. Entirely organic, the vineyard is a manicured garden. Due to their success, Cèdre now consults with the other growers of Cahors to improve the general quality of the appellation.
Cahors is a special place in the department of Quercy in Southwest France. Famous for its Black Wines, Cahors has undergone massive vineyard loss due to complacency driven by Argentina’s growing ocean of cheap, uninspired Malbec. When made correctly, Cahors is worlds apart from those southern slouches. Vines managed correctly deliver intensely deep colored, full intensity wines with incredible balance. As you’ll taste when you crack this bottle, it’s welcoming wine. Something to dive deep into, and yet, to simply enjoy. There is a lot in these wines, and they simply ask you to sip and enjoy.
In the cup, be captivated by the depth of purple. This deep royal tone permeates the glass: magenta bright and clear at the rim, hardly translucent and profound in the core. These tones are so clearly reflected in the nose and again on the palate. Let the nose of violets, tart cherry, and ripe plums waft into your face. You might not guess that 1/3rd of this wine spent 22 months in new oak, another 1/3rd in second use oak, and the rest in large oak vats.. But it did, and its superb. Backed with a cedar/piney tone that holds up these lovely fruity notes, even a touch of caramel.. this wine has it all. Intense on the palate, with that same powerful tart cherry and violet tone, piney forest floor resonates in the background and soft, refined tannins softly creep into all corners of the mouth and force a grin. They’re not trying to abuse the grapes into giving more, they’re simply showcasing its generosity. This wine, man, I like it.
Chateau du Cèdre shows balance of delicacy and strength, all layered up on a classic French platter of earth and romantic notes of dried violet and rainy forests. It’s sexy and welcoming as Malbec, Cot, should be. You will not find flab in this wine, but tension and balance, longevity, and layers. This is sexy wine, in a person-next-door kind of way. It’s comfort food. Malbec done real, real good
$32 @ Satellite SB
Malbec is Cot
Cot is Malbec
You just caught two bottles
Cot a lot, I’d say.
Malbec, Cot, two ways
Happy February Winestronaut