Our second morning at International Malbec Days got underway at the “Malbec Lounge” with a second (very) comprehensive tasting and presentation by a group of world renowned wine and soil experts.
First, renowned soil experts Lydia and Claude Bourguignon presented a summary of their research on the specific soils of Cahors. More specifically, they stressed the importance of biodiversity and health of the soil. The two soil microbiologists intiated something of a soil revolution in wine back in the early 1990’s when they rallied french vignerons to critically examine and current state of the countries vineyards and its overwhleming use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. When Claude and Lydia speak, people listen. We were very fortunate to hear their thoughts on that day.
On the far right of this photo is none other than Paul Hobbs. That’s right, one of America’s brightest and most respected winemakers. Wonder what Paul is doing in the southwest of France? Well, talking malbec of course. In addition to his eponymous winery in California, Hobbs has been at the forefront of the malbec revolution for close to two decades.
Along with partners Andrea Marchiori and Luis Barraud, Hobbs founded Viña Cobos, which produces a range of wines of red and white wines from the winegrowing region of Mendoza, Argentina. The shining varietal here is none other than malbec, and since its first release in 1999, wines from Viña Cobos have garnered considerable attention and praise. Paul is an expert on malbec, so it was great to hear his perspective on the present state and future of the ancestral home of the varietal.
More tastings that morning revealed what was for me the wine of the trip. Le Clos d’un Jour is a small domaine run by Veronique and Stephane Azemar in the district of Duravel. What made this malbec so memorable for me was that is combined both power and elegance so seamlessly. Along with the requisite, inkiness,black fruit and plum notes, the 2005 “Un jour sur Terre” (A day on this earth) displayed wonderful floral/violet and spice notes that provided an extra dimension of levity and brightness to a style of wine which can often feel like one is plunging into an abyss when taking that first sip.
Unfined and unfilted, yes..but also aged for 18 months not in oak, but rather in specially designed clay vessels or amphorae. Stephane explained that the reasoning behind this was to showcase the purist expression of the fruit and terrior while, evenly age the wine by providing steady levels of oxygen.
Later that evening (after a very warm boat ride on the Lot River) we all sat down to a wonderful dinner featuring Quercy lamb paired with a range of malbec wines from both Cahors and Argentina.
I took a moment between courses to jump up on a window sill and grab this fly on the wall view of my table and fellow dinner guests.