tiny wine blog: Cornas v. Cahors

Cornas v. Cahors
Continuing my not-so-regular series of things that confuse my head are the two wine producing appellations that begin with the letter “C”. Cornas. Cahors.
Why my brain flips them up sometimes is beyond me.
They both begin with “C” and end with “S”. They are both six letters.

I mentioned Cornas a while back when discussing Syrah and the Rhone Valley. A wine from Cornas has to be 100% Syrah. Did you go out and buy a Rhone Valley wine?
That 100% is the key to Cornas as the neighboring regions allow other grapes to sneak in (even white grapes).
I like Cornas. It is some spicy and earthy goodness.

Located in southwest France, wine with the name Cahors on it must have 70% Malbec. The other 30% can be ketchup.
Wait, no. The other 30% can be Merlot or Tannat.

Now, Tannat. There’s a grape that you don’t mess with. It’s a scrappy little grape with heavy tannins, lots of acidity, and teeth staining color. Not to go off on a side note (I am), but Tannat is the primary grape used in wines from Madiran – also in the southwest of France. I’ve had a number of Tannat based wines, both from Madiran and Uraguay where it’s their main red grape. Personally, I find it a difficult wine to enjoy. Brambly. Astringent.

Tannat reminds me of a friend's dog. He was a little wire-haired dog.
His hair was always matted and he smelled funny and he couldn't be let loose in the yard of he would go and kill a cat.
Tannat: A smelly little cat killing dog.
His name is actually Vicar. He passed away and is now in smelly dog heaven.
(side sidenote: I don't want to completely dismiss Tannat. I am just pulling it's leg. It's a nice little grape.)

But, back to Cahors. Malbec is my nemesis. I have had many Malbecs. The company I work for imports boatloads of Malbecs. My wife adores Malbecs. My cat's name is Malbec (no).
Me? I have a hard time recognizing Malbec if I am tasting it blind.
This is what I know: Malbecs tend to be very dark colored. The tannins aren’t crazy. The aromas are fairly low key and tend towards plums and other black fruit.

Your job for the week?
Find a bottle of wine from Cahors. If you like Malbec from South America, you’ll like Cahors and hopefully find it a bit more nuanced and complex (and less fruity) than their southern hemisphere cousins.
Tell me what you think.

In Cahors, they call Malbec "Auxerrois" (OX AIR WAhh). The funny thing is that name is also used for a white grape in Alsace. You know, to just make it more complicated.

For more information about Malbec and Cahors, visit your local library.
Or read these fine articles.
- Cahors of a different color
- A Sip, a Tango: Malbec Old and New

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