05 Clos la Coutale, Cahors
There are only a few occasions that this wine is meant for. Divorce. Boar hunting. Winning the world hot dog eating contest in record time. Which might make it a natural for some holiday tables, but not mine. No, a three-seat round table overlooking the city won't do. Nevermind the candles and Edith Piaf. This is a wine that begs chaos. Children wearing cranberry jam hats. A Bruno Magli in the television. Mashed potatoes and brown gravy in the ceiling fan. Spinning. Spinning around. Something inspired by a trip lost in the wilderness, camping out beneath the dead leaves, squeezing the last desperate drops of water from cantaloupe-sized balls of elephant dung. (If someone ever asks you about terroir, point out the part in this note that mentions elephant dung.) Pretend you just befriended a pack of wolves with a pot roast and then skinned them to keep yourself warm. That's what this wine smells like. It's mature and dusty, earthy and leathery. Like an old matchbook and crushed cigarette pestled into your Wranglers. It's for the time your waiter asks you, "How would you like your steak?" And you answer, "Genuflecting." But come on; what little Cahors makes it to the States is pretty great. So why Coutale? Because it straddles the Venn Diagram between so many wines in this area--not just neighboring "Bordeaux," but several of its appellations, from the chocolate-blueberry St. Emilion to minerally St. Julien. The fruit--smothered by tannins--is plummy like the grenache of Languedoc. And the strangest odor of discount air freshener (fine, call it potpourri) wafts from the tight tannins. I've only ever gotten that from a few bottles of old Bordeaux. It's aggressive, difficult, and opens up to relatively simple (but sweet, delicious) fruit. Don't take this to a dinner party. Unless you have the kind of friends who serve kangaroo.