Not long before we went on holiday to France (which, although only in mid-June, seems almost a lifetime ago now) I received an email from a customer, who was on holiday in the Cahors region, alerting me to a grower whose wines had impressed him. He suggested that I might want to visit the domaine, but unfortunately our route south took us some considerable way east of there. Nevertheless, he had mentioned me to the owners, and following a little email correspondence with them, I asked if they would be willing to send some samples to where we were staying in Languedoc. Things worked out perfectly and samples of 3 different cuvées arrived in good time for me to transport back to the UK. I opened the first one last evening and was sufficiently impressed to open the second one this evening. It is worth mentioning that the owners Mike and Sue Spring are British - which just goes to show that there are yet more "outsiders" making wine in the south of France than even I was aware of. And I have to say that they are doing a very good job. All of the red wines are made from 100% Malbec, and whilst they are made in a fairly traditional style, there are clearly sympathetic hands at work, for these wines have plenty of fruit and considerable charm.
Domaine du Garinet Classique Malbec 2004 Cahors
Whilst this is spicy, herby, savoury and ever-so-slightly meaty, it certainly isn't short on fruit aromas, with an abundance of red and black fruits steeped in eau de vie. On the other hand, it is mature enough to have also developed plenty of secondary citrus peel, blackcurrant leaf, cedar and forest floor aromas. And what the palate might lack in real complexity is more than made up for in its sheer drinkability. It still has the slightly tannic grip of a traditional Cahors, but the fruit remains deliciously vibrant, with flavours of bramble, blackcurrant and tart red cherry and a lip-smacking streak of acidity. A beautiful combination of sweet and sour, just perfect balanced and seemingly approaching the peak of its powers, although it certainly seems to have the structure to stay there for a few years yet. A delicious wine.
Domaine du Garinet Reserve Malbec 2004 Cahors
My first impression is that this one is a bit darker, a bit more extracted and a bit more "worked", due to having spent 14 months in old(ish) oak barrels. Again, we have plenty of fruit, but this time more at the black end of the spectrum, and again a real savouriness. But the secondary aromas of forest floor, eau de vie and polished old wood are much more to the fore, resulting in a nose that - whilst possibly a bit more complex - is less immediately appealing and overtly fruity than the un-oaked Classique. The palate is quite different, too, with this one clearly being built to age a little more, with a touch more extraction and the 14 months ageing in wood imbuing the wine with more in the way of tannin and grip. That said, it has plenty of juicy acidity and a core of ripe fruit that should have no trouble outlasting the tannins. Add to that a very decent length of flavour and a warm, spicy finish, and you still have a wine that is a fine example of traditional Cahors.
To be honest, there isn't a lot to choose between these two wines, although if pressed, I would probably go for the Classique. Based on my experience with the above two wines, I'm looking forward very much to tasting the 2001 Futs de Chene. Watch this space.........