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Winebuzz: Château La Coustarelle Cahors 2004

There are few places at which I treasure the wine buying experience here in my new home of Madison, Wisconsin. Unfortunately it seems that hot spots of wine culture seem to be few and far between in the Midwest. However, having moved here from Northern California, the problem might really just be my unfair comparisons and unrealistic expectations. But every once and in a while I come across a wine specialist at one of the handful of local wine shops that I can tell is truly passionate and really knows their stuff. When I know I’ve found one of these special individuals, I react in a way that’s become almost a compulsion—I have to talk to them about the wine I’m buying before I leave the store.

“Tell me the story of this one,” I said as I showed him my selection.

“Ah, Château La Coustarelle … this is a French Malbec.” When he sees my raised eyebrows he continues. “Yeees, that’s where the grape is originally from. It’s going to be a more delicate than the Malbecs coming out of Argentina that are becoming very popular.”

He goes on to tell me about the winery after I ask him about a small logo in the bottom corner of the label, Vigneron Independent. “That means this is a small independent winery, it’s not owned by a larger corporation. They are a small, independent producer.” That just made me more excited about my choice for this week’s Mystery Buy.

The cork had the purplest color I’ve ever seen and the wine was absolutely delicious. This was one of those bottles we have to be very careful to pour evenly so that no argument erupts over one of us getting more—it’s that good.

The flavor starts out with a bit of a bite and then dissolves into berries, very voluptuous and full-bodied. The more air it gets the longer the finish becomes—this one definitely needs to breathe. You’ll have to hold back your excitement to taste it and let it sit for five minutes. It’s so very French—everything happens at a slightly slower pace. This French Malbec is very, very different from the loud South American music taste of the Argentinean Malbecs. Not that I don’t love loud South American music …

It was a different wine a half an hour in. The strong, rasty smell had almost completely dissipated, but the flavor had opened up into a deliciously complex combination of flavors—more berries with some black licorice. The taste is almost inversely proportional to how strong the smell is.

An absolutely delightful wine and another Mystery Buy success!