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A Coutale of two cities

Bernede “Clos La Coutale” 2009 Cahors (Southwest France) – Full of sap and chew, as so often lighter than the brackish aromas portend, yet alive in a scowling sort of fashion. There’s a minor burnt note on the finish that makes me wonder about the condition of the bottle, but otherwise it’s quite approachable. (7/12)

Bernede ladies

Bernede “Clos La Coutale” 2008 Cahors (Southwest France) – This can be a forbidding bottle in its youth, even given the appellation’s reputation for either early anger or offensive oak-softening, but for whatever reason this wine unfolds itself rather quickly. Tannin and a dark wall of blackness are all that’s there at uncorking, but then a spectrum of fruit – noir to rouge – develop while iron, salt, and charcoal filter into the foundational void. In less than an hour, it’s a complete, reasonably approachable wine that – while it still needs a little grazing-animal muscle to tame its scowl – offers no reason why it can’t be consumed now. I think it will be better later on, but if there’s any such thing as an early-drinking Coutale Cahors, this is it. (8/11)

Don’t be a Maurin

Domaine La Bérangeraie 2006 Cahors “Cuvée Maurin” (Southwest France) – Rich, aromatic, delicious. Full of ripe, wet soil and black-skinned fruit, with a fabulously floral aroma. A surprisingly terrific performance, far earlier than I’d expected it. (8/11)

Maurin Povich

Domaine La Berangeraie 2005 Cahors “Cuvée Maurin” (Southwest France) – Impossibly dense and virtually impenetrable, a post-rockfall coal mine of a wine, with smoke, black earth, tar, rosemary, and not-yet-discernable fruit. Do not approach. (9/09)

Bernede to the ground

Bernede “Clos La Coutale” 2005 Cahors (Southwest France) – Very tannic and muffled, as one would expect at this stage. What fruit is perceptible is dark, stewish, and almost espresso-like, but there are also some intriguing aromatics that struggle through the insulation. There’s little point in drinking this now. (7/09)

The Resses of the story

[vineyard]Resses “Château la Caminade” 2004 Cahors (Southwest France) – Weirdly spacious, with snaky tannin and charred fruit draped on a wall opposite the one that carries a bright, berries-in-the-sun flavor with considerable acidity. The dominant impression is one of structure, and I just don’t know if there’s the balance or interest in integration to bring the disparate elements together. This wine needs a vinous Brown v. Board of Education. (8/08)

TN: Two-dollar Cahors (not really)

[label]Gayraud “Château Lamartine” 2002 Cahors (Southwest France) – Wet, hard-ridden leather with hints of tar, black fruit residue, and a jerky, whip-snap structure dominated by violent lashes of sharp tannin and blocky acidity. The wine has a certain appeal, and not just from a sadomasochistic point of view; the elements are in that funky sort of Southwestern French balance, and while the wine is quite drinkable (albeit with food) now, I think aging is key. It will never be refined, however. (4/07)