Monday, October 31, 2011

Washington Malbec v. Cahors

It is Halloween weekend and all the spooky All Hallows Eve inspired wines are hitting the store shelves.  Searching through the Lucha Vino caves I discovered a sufficiently scary wine to represent Washington this weekend - Ash Hollow Reserve Malbec.

The route for the Tour de France has been announced so that lead me back to Malbec's origins to search for a worthy challenger.  This week's challenger hails from the Cahors AOC.

2007 Ash Hollow Reserve Malbec v. 2008 Clos la Coutale Cahors

 Tale of the Tape

2007 Ash Hollow Reserve Malbec

100% Malbec from the Bella Terra Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley AVA

Aged for 10 months in French oak barrels - 20% New and 80% Neutral

Purchased from Esquin for $17.99.

2008 Clos la Coutale Cahors

80% Malbec and 20% Merlot from the Cahors AOC

Aged in oak barrels.

Purchased from Bottle House for $17.99.  Special thanks to Chip McGlaughlin for assisting with the selection.

Round 1.  First Opening

Stepping into the ring the Ash Hollow is looking to put the Cahors Challenger in the pain cave immediately.  The Ash Hollow has a nose of ripe black cherry and plum with some earthiness.  The palate is also dark and menacing with a mouthful of black fruit and a slightly dry peppery finish trailing off with a bit of vanilla.

The Clos la Coutale is focused on self preservation, showing a floral nose of rose petals, medium red berries and a bit of wood and mineral.  The palate is more ripe red fruit with a fairly dry finish that includes some interesting notes of toasty oak that is reminiscent of Cheerios.

Ash Hollow takes the first round with a startling display of power similar to a dragster accelerating off the start line.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The Ash Hollow has beefed up its game in between rounds showing a nose of dark fruit, licorice and dusty earth spices.  The palate is equally bold with black fruit, plum, licorice and a sweet peppery spiced finish.

The Clos la Coutale Cahors Challenger hits out with a series of complex ninja moves.  The nose is rich sweet black fruit, currant and green tea macha.  The palate has gained similar strength with black fruit, pomegranate and green tea leading into a tart finish.

This round ends in a draw with both Luchadors scoring equal points with two very different styles.  Bruising brashness from Ash Hollow up against the stealthy ninja moves from Cahors.

Round 3. One day later

One day later and the Ash Hollow is showing no sign of power loss.  The nose is dark and brooding with notes of licorice and black Stoney fruit.  The palate is equally domineering with black fruit, licorice and coffee with some semi-sweet espresso and cocoa bean finish.

The Clos la Coutale isn't backing down and maintains the complexity that says now you see me, now you don't.  Spinning back kicks and a ninja smoke bomb brings out a complex nose of rich medium red fruit and earthy spices of clove and white pepper.  The palate mimics the nose with rich tart red berries, cedar spices and a tart coffee bean finish.  With more air the spices keep building, remaining in the background, but lurking and waiting for when you least expect it.

Another close round with the Cahors Challenger winning on style points.

Wrap up and over all observations

These two Luchadors put on quite the battle.  Each with their own unique take on the Malbec grape.  Either one could have won the match and the final result came down to a call on style.  Big, brash and in your face vs. sleek, subtle and slightly sinister.  With this match celebrating Halloween, it is only fitting that the Luchador demonstrating some sinister character is the winner.

I give the Ash Hollow an 87 and the Clos la Coutale an 88.

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