A Tale of Two Malbecs

Meatloaf & Malbec
Julie’s folks are visiting for the holidays, and her mom made meatloaf and mashed potatoes for dinner; comfort food at its best.  I don’t have a lot of experience with Malbec, but I had a couple of bottles on hand to begin exploring, just waiting for the right time.  We tried an Argentine Malbec and a French Malbec with our meatloaf dinner.

I didn’t want to disrupt dinner with the camera, so you’ll need to picture your own meatloaf with these wines.

Malbecs from Argentina and France

Malbecs from Argentina and France

Each wine was a nice companion to the meatloaf, and we had the opportunity to gather a couple of opinions from the table.  Our son, Peter, liked the Catena better as he liked the more abundant fruit in the wine.  Julie also gave the Catena a better rating, but only slightly so (she didn’t just love either one).  With dinner, I strongly preferred the Chateau Caillau.  The meatloaf brought out the fruit that was not so obvious when tasting the wine by itself.  I found the Catena to be just too fruity and ripe with the meal.  I learned an important lesson for picking a wine for a group!

Chateau du Caillau Cahors
As usual, this French wine is named for the place it is from, not the grape.  Fortunately for us, they decided to put “Malbec” on the label as well.  Red wines from the Cahors AOC must be at least 70% Malbec.  So if the more restrained profile appeals to you, look for Cahors.
My notes:
Eye: Inky dark, dark red, opaque center, not purple or warm colored at the edge, just red.  Appears a touch cloudy, maybe unfiltered.
Nose: Initially barny. After a few minutes, the fruit emerges.  The fruit seems like prunes or raisins, but not up front, just there in the background.
Mouth: Dark fruit, more astringent/tannic than the Catena. Less ripe.  Less fruit than the Catena, as well.  Rustic. Better with meatloaf than the Argentine Malbec, as the fruit emerges with the food.

Chateau Caillau Malbec from Cahors, France

Chateau du Caillau Malbec from Cahors, France

Catena Malbec
Eye: Inky dark red, at the edge, it tends toward purple.
Nose: Smoky, blackberries, a little pepper.
Mouth: More red fruit in the flavor, medium tannins, but they are there right away. Medium ripeness, not austere, not jammy.  Not overly oaked, but nice rich, ripe & smooth.
With meatloaf, not quite as good as the Cahors.  The fruit is a bit much with the meat.
The Catena Surprise
My surprise with the Catena came on day two.  I don’t usually drink wine after dinner, but I wanted a glass of something as I was doing a bit of work.  I tried a taste of both the Chateau du Caillau and the Catena.  As a fireplace/sipping wine, the Catena was much better.  The French wine really did need food.  The Catena was a nice wine for sipping, no food needed. In the evening, that was a great advantage!

Catena Malbec from Argentina

Catena Malbec from Argentina

We’re really busy with family activities and house guests for the holidays, so I’m going to try a couple of very short posts.  Let me know what you think!

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