Les Galets d’Olt Malbec 2016, Cahors 

Black wines matter

Malbec used to be one of Europe’s most famous wines, albeit in the middle ages, when it made ‘The Black Wines of Cahors’. Later, rather sneakily, Bordeaux cut off Cahors’ down river trading access to the Atlantic and the wine’s fame evaporated within the entrails of time. Until Argentina picked the ball up and made Malbec its home team.

Like almost all French wines, grapes are rarely indicated on the bottle, selling instead as a region’s characteristic style. So Cahors hasn’t benefited from the fame Argentina brought to Malbec. Which is a shame because that’s where the grape was born and evolved to suit climate, landscape and culture.

Malbec is usually dark, inky stuff. It can smell of violets and blue/black berries with plenty of juicy fruitiness to back all that up. Instead of Cabernet’s up front lip smacking tannins or Pinot Noir’s back of mouth finesse, Malbec has a signature middle of the mouth powdery feel and grip to it. Rarely refined or elegant or expensive, I often think of Malbec as a bit like a much more interesting, slightly raucous, punchier ‘kid brother’ version of Merlot.

Finally some French regions are realizing people buy wine on grape expectations rather than geographical obscurity. I picked up a bottle of Les Galets d’Olt 2016 Cahors at a local supermarket for 4 euros which probably plays out to 12 bucks in North America or 12 quid in the UK. Like many current Cahors wines, it’s been made to glug now. Focused on fruit purity, without any oak influence, I liked it a lot with veal one night and chicken the next.

If you are a fan of Argentinean Malbec, regardless whether you can find this exact wine where you live, give any Cahors a try. Alternatively, try something from New Zealand’s Hawkes Bay, another under known source for vibrant, pure fruited Malbec. Let’s say it again, black wines matter!