Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cahorsing Around

I've been on a tear lately with bad puns and rather lewd innuendos, so why hit the brakes now. Likewise, I've been making a concerted effort (or at least trying to) to buy less wine and instead drink through some of the goodies already slumbering in my modest cellar. Mind you, we're not talking about ancient dust and mold collectors; I have only a handful of bottles in the over 20 age range. But there's now a decent amount of stuff spread across the K-12 age group, a lot of it, at least in theory, now hitting its prime drinking window.

Dr. Vino penned a nice piece last week on the pleasures of such drinking principles. I'll do my best to keep up with the plan and, when I feel it's worthwhile, to share some of the experiences. Here's one from earlier this week.

Cahors "La Commandery," Château La Caminade (L. Ressès et Fils) 2002
$16 on release. 13.5% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Wine Traditions, Falls Church, VA.
An old friend, the cuvée of Cahors known as "La Commandery" from Château la Caminade is a wine that I once sold but that I hadn't actually drunk in many a year. At eight years from harvest, it's barely — and I do mean barely — starting to show signs of evolution. Maturity would not be the word; adolescence, perhaps. Showing only the slightest hint of development in color, it was also still intensely primary on the nose, showing overt oak-driven aromas along with scents of black currants, graphite and sweet earth. If you're looking for something to throw into a mid-age Bordeaux tasting as a ringer, this would make for a good choice.

Still quite firm in its tannic structure, albeit very well balanced in that context, there's no question that this still calls out for the kind of hearty fare that's typical of the culinary traditions of SW France. My only quibble with the wine at this point — again, it's still got plenty of years to go — is its oak signature, which steps plainly into the cedar and cigar box end of the spectrum, a little too forward relative to my current preferences.

Although it cries out for rich food, even the simplest pairing helped to take the edge off both its wood profile and its tannic character, bringing out the pretty side of the wine — violets, blueberries and a cinnamon/clove spiciness that lingered on the palate as well as in the last drops in the glass.

In spite of what some might consider a borderline international personality, the more the wine opened with air, the more it showed some classic signs of the terroir of Cahors — slightly sour clay, pronounced minerality and animale character, a definite whiff of black olives and some brambly, blackberry-scented fruit. Returning to the wine 48 hours later only reinforced that perception, as the oak had plainly receded, allowing the richness of the wine's fruit and soil voices to speak through what was left in the bottle.

Speaking of the bottle, you'll see in the rather oddly cropped photo at top right as well as in the very bloggerly photo above that "La Commandery" is borne in a special package. The "La Chantrerie" bottle is used by a group of vignerons who, in 1988, along with a handful of other agricultural artisans, formed a group known as Le Collège de la Chantrerie. Their mission is one and the same as (albeit a subset of) that of La Chantrerie itself, a museum and research institute devoted to studying and promoting the traditional culinary products of the Lot department, where Cahors is located. I can't say that the specially embossed bottle is a sure sign of quality but I can say that I'll be interested in exploring the wines of other member producers.

No comments:

Blog Widget by LinkWithin