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September 27, 2007

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.


Blogger Matthew D Dunn said...

You really ought to let your writing go like this more often. It's fantastic. Screw the tight wine-speak. Indulge in packs of wolves, gravy fans, and genuflecting steaks. Do you write anywhere else?

10:20 PM  
Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

Thanks Matthew. I, too, hate "tight wine-speak"--but few wines can bring out such excitement. I try not to write about the 90% of wines I drink that don't really do anything, but still they can't all be about dead cuts of beef kneeling to an ignorant lord. It takes a lot out of you to think of life this way.

2:32 AM  
Anonymous Michelaccio said...

Try drinking this wine while reading Eugène Ionesco's "The Bald Soprano." Then the world will actually look normal. It's like giving caffeine to hyperactive kids or dropping dynamite in oil well fires.

9:50 AM  
Anonymous farley said...

Great writing. You make me want to tame the savage beast...

8:46 PM  
Blogger Leigh Pomeroy said...

I too was impressed by this post ... and I teach writing, for whatever that's worth. I just finished Michael S. Sanders's book Families of the Vine, which focuses on three Cahors vintners including Philippe Bernède (Clos la Coutale), Yves and Martine Jouffreau (Clos de Gamot and Château du Cayrou), and Jean-Luc Baldès (Clos Triguedina).

I now have a thirst for Cahors, which (alas!) is not available in my hometown. This particular post makes me even more ravenous.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

Leigh, thanks. That's great of you to say... and I write writing :).

You actually got me excited about this wine again with your comment. I've got one bottle left. I'm on a bit of a whisky kick right now (98 Caol Ila), but I might have to open my last bottle of the Coutale.

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just tried the 2007, and all I can say is let this cellar for at least another year. Maybe 3. It seems these tannic French Malbecs need a lot more time to mellow than the South American variety...even when blended with 20% Merlot.

Hard to beat the price on this, though.

6:41 PM  

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