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clos la coutaleMalbec from Argentina may be the hot new grape but in Cahors, a region in Southwest France,  they’ve been growing it since the Romans ruled. Although originally a Bordeaux varietal, the Bordelais gave up on the grape after the 1956 frost killed off most of the vines. But the folks in Cahors soldier on  with this difficult grape and succeed in making some remarkable wines. Fresh, soft, and fruit-forward when grown in Argentina, in Cahors, Malbec is savory and meaty with surprisingly robust tannins for a thin-skinned grape.

This Clos La Coutale is no exception. Red licorice, olives, and cardamom on the nose. With aeration, cedar notes gain prominence. The medium-bodied palate shows blueberry enlivened by medium plus acidity with sandy tannins that are beginning to back off after a few years in the bottle. Excellent depth and focus make this an interesting wine for the price but some tartness and bitterness mar the rustic finish. 80% Malbec and 20% Merlot, this wine has so much personality, even its flaws are loveable.  If you’re part of the Malbec craze, this gem puts some of the lesser Argentinean pretenders to shame.

Score: 89

Price: $17

Alc: 13.5

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