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  • Writer's pictureJohn Paul Kaminga

On the Bright Side of Dark: Jouves La Roque

You can always expect Malbec to be dark in color. You can also expect that most Malbec will be mass-produced and manipulated. Most of what you will find will come from Argentina, and tartaric acid will be the first thing added to the grapes at crushing, followed by selected yeast strains and enzymes to help fermentation along. If you're lucky, you will get something aged in actual oak barrel, but there's a good chance you be drinking oak powder, as well as various added stabilizers, the least offensive being too much sulfur dioxide.... but forget all of that, because there's a bright side of Malbec. Although it may not be common, Malbec exists unadorned, fresh and utterly delicious.

France's Cahors AOC is the spiritual epicenter of Malbec production, even if Argentina's Mendoza region gets the lion's share of attention. There are many great and worthwhile Mendoza wines to consider, but we will have to brush them aside today. We want to talk about some French stuff.

Cahors has distinct terroirs that are related to distance from the Lot River. The farther away, the more limestone in your soils. Fabien Jouves' Domaine Mas del Périé is situated on a hill far from the river, and his soils are rich with limestone. He makes a few wines from his certified biodynamic estate, but toady we offer one of his more serious bottlings: La Roque, made from a single parcel with brown marls. La Roque is pure Malbec, fermented and aged in concrete and barrels, with nothing added except sulfites (15 ppm or less) at bottling. This is wine as natural and unadulterated as one could ask wine to be. I can't recommend it highly enough.

2019 Fabien Jouves Cahors 'La Roque' - $28

Gorgeous Cahors, the feeling of direct connection to fresh Malbec grapes is astounding. I love this pure and unadulterated style. Yeasty and a bit gassy at first, but this opens up to intense violet and blackberry notes, as well as beautiful nuances of brown sourdough bread, white pepper, lemon pith, pine, and a suspicion of fresh ginger. Nice juicy tart black fruits on the palate, a touch bitter like a seedy blackberry, supple tannins and beautiful inner perfume of blue flowers and green leaves. The finish features fresh blackberry, dark soil, and clean nutty lees. This should be worth following a few years, maybe much longer. Hard to tell, but I would make sure my cellar is cool and stable if I were to try for the long haul.

Order 3 bottles of La Roque, and we'll take 15% off. Please email with questions and orders.

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