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One Brilliant Bottle

organic/biodynamic/natural wines in Vinland

Château du Cèdre Le Cèdre

France (Cahors)


Château du Cèdre Le Cèdre 2002

Deep, dark, and moody. A rich nose of stewed black fruit, nicely aged. Firm and concentrated on the palate, with strong ripe tannins. A wine at home next to a fireplace, the aromas of roasting beef or lamb inviting you to the table. There is a homey, rural feel to this wine that warms the heart.  $$

These days when ‘malbec’ is mentioned, it seems to be in tandem with ‘Argentina’. Certainly, South America has given the grape new prominence. But France is its ancestral home, and it is the Cahors appellation, in the region of the Lot, that originally set the standard for malbec (or côt, as it is called there). And in recent years several Cahors estates have thrust it back into the limelight. One definitely in the forefront is the 25 organic hectares of Château du Cèdre. (In fact La Revue du Vin de France lists it among the nine major organic domaines in France.)

Its story goes back to 1956, a devastating year in Cahors, when the vineyards throughout the region were wiped out by severely cold temperatures. That summer Charles Verhaeghe and his wife Marie-Thérèse first planted vines on their property. Their sons Jean-Marc and Pascal Verhaeghe, both of whom studied oenology, eventually took over the estate (Pascal by way of motorcycle racing). Now Jean-Marc handles the vineyards, while Pascal takes more responsibility in the making of the wine and its distribution.

The vineyards of Château du Cèdre are on hillsides near the town of Vire-sur-Lot, and are blessed with the best soil types found in Cahors. Half the vineyards are planted in very rocky argilo-calcareous soil, the other half in pebbles mixed with red iron oxide sand atop siliceous earth and clay. The climate is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Mediterranean Sea on another, and the Pyrenees on a third. Southerly winds bring sunshine and the waters of the river Lot act as a cooling agent at night.

The malbec wines that emerge are more austere than those of Argentina, with pronounced tannins and strong natural acidity. They tend to be longer-lived, with distinctive notes of black fruit. Very dark in colour, they have given rise to the recent marketing campaign of Cahors wines as “Vin Noir”. It is an attempt on the part of the wine producers in Cahors to re-establish their wines in the consciousness of the French public, and to separate themselves a little from their New World competitors. And to mark their bottlings as wines of character, which they most surely are.


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