I'm beginning to think I have a palate designed for drinking white wine. My mom is a white wine drinker, so my early introductions to wine (well, good wine anyway) were mostly Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio. So when I drink white, I taste fruit and acidity, spice and oak, butter and minerals. But, when I drink red, especially intense, full-bodied reds, I often come away feeling uncertain. Did I like it? What was that flavor on the finish? For me, big red wines can be a mystery.
This Chateau Fontaynes Malbec fell squarely in that category, except for one important thing - the grape is mentioned on the label. French wines are forever testing my ability to match region to varietal, a game I can fail spectacularly at. And, in this particular instance, I would have never guessed Malbec as the dominant grape. Most of us know Malbec from Argentinian wines, a country which has embraced that varietal with much success. France plants Malbec in fairly decent quantities too, but it is largely used in Bordeaux blends (and that practice is losing favor rapidly). There is one region in France, however, that makes wines that show off the Malbec grape - Cahors, slightly southwest of Bordeaux. For that reason, this is a unique wine.
In the glass, the Chateau Fontaynes is deep purple, inky even. I tasted dark fruit and an earthiness that made the wine feel rough around the edges. This is one intense wine and I'm sure, with a more discerning palate, I'd be better able to relate its depth.
Apparently, we loved this wine when we first tried it. Princeton Corkscrew hosted the vintners and Doug and I liked the tasting (and the price) enough to buy two bottles. The plan was to drink one (check) and cellar the other. With its structure and strong tannins, I imagine this wine will hold up to a couple of years in the basement. Stay tuned.
Chateau Fontaynes Cuvee Dorian Cahors