Clos Siguier Cahors 2015
Winegrower: Gilles Bley
Region: Cahors AOC
Grapes: 90% Côt (Malbec), 10% Tannat
Today’s offer brings an astonishing deal on one of the top red wines from the Cahors region of southwestern France. Most people think Malbec is the grape of Argentina. Few realize that its true home is Cahors where it is called Cot, and where in the Middle Ages it was known as the ‘black wine” for its deep, ebony hued purple colour. Argentinian Malbec is usually a powerful wine with brooding fruit, noticeable oak and elevated alcohol levels. Our French version is quite the opposite with bright fruit, finesse, no oak flavours and only 12.5% alcohol. Cahors is a geological jewel with magnificent terroirs at varying altitudes that can deliver wines of considerable power and structure. But power is easy; it’s the finesse that’s difficult and the best producers aim for exactly that so as to allow the bright fruit of the Malbec grape to shine. Our 2015 Cahors is just such a wine and is on the menus of natural wine bars in Paris and foodie meccas around the world including Alice Water’s famed Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA. It’s delicious now but is age-worthy and will get even better over the next few years. At $26 this delicious wine represents excellent value that way over delivers.
Gilles Bley’s family have owned their 15 hectares of vineyards and made wine since 1779 in this extremely hilly, middle part of the Cahors wine appellation just south of the beautiful, winding Lot River. Broadly speaking, Cahors makes two types of wines; those from vines grown on the low lying, flat fertile land that are heavy and alcoholic, or those like Clos Siguier that are grown on the highest iron rich limestone hillsides that produce wines that stand out for their finesse, bright fruit, civilized tannins and moderate alcohol.
Gilles’ vineyards surround the family home and the ancient, vaulted stone cellars below. This is important because the farthest the grapes have to travel to the cellar is 500 meters, which means they arrive without premature fermentation having taken place. This helps preserve the freshness of the wine. His vineyards are chalky and iron rich, laden with seashells and other fossils. Gilles took over the family estate 32 years ago when he was just 20. His intimate understanding of the Malbec (Côt) and Tannat vines allows him to produce wines that highlight this storied region’s un-heard of potential for delicacy.
Spring of 2015 began with very mild, unusually warm temperatures and a rainfall deficit that extended into May. June was exceptionally sunny and provided perfect conditions for flowering including a small amount of rain. August brought the longed-for rain without strong thunderstorms. The vineyards were enjoying perfect health, despite of some rainfalls in early September, and the grapes ripened under near perfect conditions and were harvested at the end of the month.
The 2015 Clos Siguier comes from organically grown, hand harvested grapes from 60+ year-old vines. It is the product of a simple, traditional cellar philosophy and gifted terroir. The grapes are destemmed and undergo fermentation with indigenous yeasts for about a month in traditional concrete tanks. The wine is then pressed and returned to a concrete tank. In the spring when the temperature rises to about 15˚ the wine undergoes natural malolactic fermentation. A little sulphur is then added (only 1 gr/hectoliter) and the wine rests. Final blending of the Malbec and Tannat wines occurs a full 2 years after the vintage. The wine is then bottled unfined and unfiltered and with no additional sulphur.
This is a classic Cahors blend of Malbec with a bit of Tannat. The wine is an ebony purple colour but with more than enough fruit and freshness to make you smile. The nose is all black cherry, red currant, cedar and cool black tea. On the palate it’s succulent red and black fruit with great minerality, nice weight and delicate herbal and savoury notes on the back end. It maintains its balance with a refreshing acidity, soft tannins and fantastic structure with a pepper-tinged finish. But before you simply pull the cork and pour this wine for friends keep in mind that it craves and deserves to be served with great food like grilled hangar steak or better yet these incredible braised short ribs. This wine shines brightest when served at 16˚ in Bordeaux stems.