Between birthdays and baseball, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get something together for this month’s French Winophiles trip to France’s Southwest region. Then I thought, why not work some wine from the Sud-Ouest into the birthday celebration? That’s the way we rolled, and I happily do have a pairing to report on today.
Think of Malbec, and Argentina typically pops to mind. With good reason, as that is where most Malbec wine comes from. The grape thrives in Argentina’s mountainous climate. The Vineyard at the End of the World: Maverick Winemakers and the Rebirth of Malbec is an interesting read on how Malbec came to be at the heart of Argentina’s emergence as a producer of high-quality wine.
But the Winophiles group is not about wines from Argentina. Fear not, as Malbec has its roots in France. Malbec is one of the five noble grapes allowed in a red Bordeaux blend. That said, Malbec is not featured in many wines around France today, largely due to it susceptibility to disease. One notable exception to that is the Cahors AOC of Southwest France, where Malbec must comprise at least 70% of the red wines with the Cahors label. This post from the Wine-Pages.com has some interesting background on the history and revival of Cahors Malbec.
A pairing for Cahors Malbec: The process of coming up with today’s pairing went like this. Last weekend we were celebrating our son’s 10th birthday. I was grilling up some Heaven Sent Grilled Pork Chops as part of the family birthday celebration. I recalled Cahors Malbec I’d had before as being a pretty sturdy red wine, and thought it could stand up to the pork chops. Only after doing this pairing did I read this Wine Folly post on Malbec that highlight cumin as a spice that works well with Malbec. So Malbec for grilled pork chops is an even better idea when the pork has my go-to blend, which feature cumin along with garlic powder and salt. That simple blend is what gives the Heaven Sent Grilled Pork Chops their flavor. Grab the easy recipe on this previous post.
So the day before the birthday party, I had my list. Balloons, check. Ingredients for eggless chocolate cake, check. Ten pork chops, check. Cahors Malbec, check.
I picked out the 2012 Chateau Lamartine Cahors Malbec ($19, 13% alcohol) to serve with our grilled pork chops. This wine actually has a small amount of Merlot blended in with the Malbec. The wine is produced from old vines overlooking the meandering Lot river. I haven’t been to Cahors but every post I’ve come across on the region describes the river as meandering, so I’ll go with that!
After pouring out the Cahors Malbec for the guests and making sure everyone had gotten their pork chops, I tried some myself and made a few quick notes. I got raspberry fruit, leather, and a bit of tartness. Nice long finish. This Malbec worked quite well with the pork, being of similar weight to meat and the Malbec played nicely with the spice blend as predicted. The pork chops were served with some Awesome Avocado Chimichurri Sauce and bean tacos, and the wine did reasonably well with those items, too.
Wine pairing bonus: One of the great things about a dinner party is you can open a few bottles of wine and do some experimenting! So in addition to the Cahors Malbec, we also had a bottle of Tilia Malbec from Argentina. We started with that. As anticipated, it was more fruit forward and less complex than the Cahors Malbec. A classic example of differences between Old World and New World styles. I definitely preferred the Cahors. Interesting, my brother-in-law with strong Francophile tendencies preferred the Tilia from Argentina. I agree it’s a nice little wine, and at half the price of the Cahors bottle, something I will continue to grab from time to time.
Birthday Cheers: Before signing off, I should mention one other bottle that got popped open for the birthday. Our family likes toasts at our gatherings, and our 10 year-old is no exception. So after pouring him a glass of sparkling cider, the grownups got a pour of 2009 Jean-Francois Merieau Touraine Sparkling Wine. This sparkling wine from the Loire, which we visited in an earlier Francophile post, is made the Methode Traditionelle, for about half the price of an entry level Champagne. A nice crisp, dry sparkling wine perfect for a party!
Check out all the French Winophile posts!
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Le Tourin Gascon a la Tomate”
- David from Cooking Chat pairs “A Cahors Malbec for Grilled Pork Chops”
- Jeff from foodwineclick journeys to “The Undiscovered France: Sud-Ouest & Jurancon Sec”
- Martin from Enofylz Wine Blog features “Marcillac – The Perfect Wine for Liver and Onions”
- Michelle from Rockin Red Blog shares “Wines of Southwest France on Winophiles”
- Sarah from Curious Cuisiniere pairs “Pintxos (Basque Style Tapas) and Côtes de Gascogne Wine”
- Tammy from Telling Stories from Chez Nous shares “Oysters a La Charentaise“
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on a Farm shares tales from “Exploring Southwest France with the French Winophiles – 2012 Malbec from Chateau-Haut Monplaiser
- Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva shares “Smoking Duck and Wines from Sud-Ouest”