1990 Chateau du Cayrou, Cahors
Although it is not very well remembered today, 1990 was a spectacular vintage for the Right Bank Merlots in Bordeaux and the Malbecs of Cahors. Fortunately, these wines also age beautifully, so the Jouffreau family, proprietors of Chateau du Cayrou, still had some in their cellar to release to the US importer, Wines of France. The 1989 and 1990 vintages of the Cayrou had been mainstays on our shelves in those first years after we bought the shop in 2000, and we were extremely pleased to discover that the 1990 has developed into a magnificent wine. The Jouffreau family actually owns three estates in Cahors, which is located in an upland region inland of Bordeaux, very suitable for Malbec because of its higher summer temperatures. The original Jouffreau estate is Clos du Gamot, founded in 1610, which produces very traditional and quite tannic Malbec from over one hundred-year-old vines. They make even more concentrated and powerful wines from the Clos Saint Jean vineyard, a 600-year-old site that they have spent the last fifteen years renovating. Chateau du Cayrou was acquired by the family in 1971. The Cayrou wines are softer, more elegant, and considered somewhat “feminine” for Cahors, in part because they add 20% Merlot and 10% Tannat (for a bit of structure) to the Malbec. This wine is best compared to an aged Bordeaux, and so is a better complement for cured meats and aged cheeses than a big steak. It is $55, a great value for wine of this vintage, and we were able to get a bit more from our local distributor.
2011 Comte de Lauze, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc
One of our favorite people in the wine trade is our friend William Woodruff, who imports French and Italian wines under the label Chloe’ wines. No one is more loyal to the small estates he represents than William, and he is tireless in his search for the gems hidden among the vast viticultural treasures of France. In the case of Comte de Lauze, he was unable to get his regular distributor to pick up the wines, so he turned to his friends Guy and Adonis at Cru Selections to distribute them here in Seattle. Comte de Lauze is a small 10-hectare property in Cabrières in the northwest corner of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which has been owned by Anne Faucher and her family since 1976. This wonderful white Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a pretty classic blend of 45% Grenache Blanc, 35% Roussanne, and 10% each Clairette and Bourboulenc. It’s a full-bodied, rich, elegant wine with soft floral aromas, good acidity, superb purity, and an elegant, honeyed mouth feel with a touch of hazelnut. Enjoy it now, with fish dishes, foie gras, white meats, or soft cheeses. It’s only $42 and in good supply.