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The Cellar: French Malbec + Gewürztraminer

Saturday, January 19, 2013

 

This week we will be visiting southern Germany and southwestern France in search of two out of the mainstream, yet fantastic wines that offer great value.

2011 Villa Wolf Gewürztraminer, Pfalz, Germany

This week’s first wine is a Gewürztraminer from Germany. More specifically, this wine is from Ernst Loosen’s Villa Wolf Estate located in the Pfalz, a region situated between the Haardt mountains and the Rhine River in the southwestern part of the country. The Pfalz is located directly north of France’s Alsace region. As in Alsace, the mountains protect the vineyards in Pfalz from the cold Atlantic weather, making it one of the warmer and drier wine-producing regions in Germany. Because of the increased ripeness winemakers can achieve in this part of the country, the style of wine that is produced is usually drier, fuller in body, higher in alcohol and richer in flavor than the wines from, for example, Mosel, whose wines are lighter, lower in alcohol and often have a little sweetness to balance the pronounced acidity.

Villa Wolf was founded in 1756 and experienced its heyday in the mid 1800’s. Alongside Gewürztraminer the Estate grows all the Pinot varieties (Gris, Blanc and Noir) as well as Riesling. Ernst Loosen purchased the Estate in 1996 and quickly modernized the facilities, placing it firmly on the international wine map. Gewürztraminer is a varietal that is known for producing big and highly fragrant wines loaded with fresh stone fruits and spice. The 2011 Villa Wolf does not disappoint. While it finishes dry, this wine is bursting with sweet lychees, ripe peaches and cinnamon. It is super vibrant and fresh with mouthwatering acidity. If you want to know more about Ernst Loosen’s Villa Wolf Estate and the Pfalz wine region click here to watch a 5-minute video.

2007 Clos de la Coutale Cot, Cahors, France

This week’s second wine is from a region located in southwestern France called Cahors. With its 10,000 acres, the Cahors is considered small by most standards, roughly one quarter the size of Napa.

Wines from the Cahors are red and must consist of at least 70% Cot Noir, with the remaining 30% usually being Merlot and/or Tannat. Think you’ve never had of Cot? Well, think again. Cot is the local name for Malbec, the grape varietal which in the US is best known for producing single varietal wines in Mendoza, Argentina. In the "old world" however, Malbec is best known as being used as a blending grape in Bordeaux and for taking center stage in Cahors.

Malbecs from Cahors and Mendoza are very different, especially when the Cahors is blended with the rustic and tannic Tannat. When this is the case Cahors can be extremely rough on the palate needing years in the bottle to mellow out. But when blended with Merlot, like this week’s wine is, it is a lot softer and much more approachable earlier on. Still a lot earthier and meatier than your everyday Argentinean Malbec, the 2007 Clos de la Coutale is definitely something different, but absolutely worth seeking out. Make sure you decant this wine, especially if you get a newer vintage.

Cheers and enjoy!

Steffen Rasch is a Certified Sommelier and Specialist of Wine. Feel free to email him at [email protected] with any wine-related question or sign up for one of his tastings through the Providence Wine Academy.

 

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