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Recommended malbecs from Dave McIntyre

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By French appellation law, Cahors must be at least 70 percent malbec, with merlot and tannat allowed to make up to 30 percent of the blend. If it is labeled “malbec,” that grape must account for at least 85 percent of the blend. The wine is inky in color, once famed as “the black wine of Cahors,” and tends to be more earthy and tannic, less supple than the Argentine version of malbec.

Clos La Coutale Cahors 2008

***

Cahors, France, $18

This wine from famed importer Kermit Lynch offers dark fruit (blackberry, blueberry) seasoned with toffee and earth and nice grippy tannins on the finish. As much as a week after opening, it was still spicy and delicious, indicating an age-worthy wine.

Winebow in the District: Available at Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, MacArthur Beverages, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Pearson’s, Safeway in Georgetown, various Whole Foods Market locations; on the list at Adour, Agora, D.C. Coast, Johnny’s Half Shell, Le Chat Noir, Marcel’s, Proof. Roanoke Valley Wine Co. in Virginia: Available at Curious Grape and Twisted Vines Bottleshop in Arlington; Wegmans locations in Fairfax, Gainesville, Leesburg, Sterling and Woodbridge; Whole Foods Market in Vienna; the Wine Cellar in Middleburg. On the list at the French Hound in Middleburg, Lyon Hall in Arlington, Mon Ami Gabi in Reston.

Cosse Maisonneuve Le Combal 2006

**1 / 2

Cahors, France, $22

At first sip, it seems a tad overripe, with pruney flavors, but after just a few minutes it comes alive with an inner energy, sort of like walking into a room and sensing something exciting is happening there. It’s spicy and enticing, and it will draw you in.

Bacchus: Available in the District at Chat’s Liquors; on the list at Central Michel Richard, Proof. Available in Maryland at Bin 201 Wine Sellers in Annapolis, Wishing Well Liquors in Easton; on the list at Crush Winehouse in Annapolis, Petit Louis in Baltimore.

Mission La Caminade Malbec-Merlot 2008

**

Cahors, France, $10

This is a juicy wine that simply brought a smile to my face; the smile broadened with every sip, especially since I couldn’t stop sipping. This is the “entry-level” wine for Chateau la Caminade, which makes a sturdier, more classic (and very delicious) Cahors called “La Commandery,” retailing at about $21.

Wine Traditions: Available in the District at Cork Market. Available in Maryland at FineWine.com in Gaithersburg. Available in Virginia at Rick’s Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria; Whole Foods Market locations in Alexandria and Arlington; on the list at Mediterranee in Great Falls.

Cedre Heritage Malbec 2009

**

Cahors, France, $15

Young and fresh, with effusive fruit just barely restrained, it’s a bit rambunctious, but it calms down a bit a few hours after opening. Rather modern in style.

Elite: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Rodman’s; on the list at Bistro Bis, Bistro d’Oc, Urbana. Available in Maryland at Geste Wine in Bethesda, FineWine.com in Gaithersburg, Rodman’s locations in Wheaton and White Flint, the Wine Bin in Ellicott City; on the list at 13.5% Wine Bar in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, Fern Street Gourmet in Alexandria; on the list at La Cote d’Or and Tallula in Arlington.

Cotes d’Olt Cuvee Tradition 2008

*1 / 2

Cahors, France, $10

This wine is 80 percent malbec and 20 percent merlot; it offers nice acidity and balance in an Old World style, with appealing woodsy-spicy notes and bright fruit flavors.

M Touton Selection: Available in the District at Burka’s Wine & Liquor, Chevy Chase Wine and Spirits, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Sherry’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Watergate Wine and Beverage. Available in Maryland at Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis, Edgewater Liquors, Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington, State Line Liquors in Elkton.

Chateau de Gaudou Tradition 2008

*1 / 2

Cahors, France, $12

Here’s another excellent example of a traditional-style Cahors: a bit grippy with the tannins, earthy in flavor, with a core of dark fruit. Think grilled red meat.

Simon N Cellars: Available in the District at Cork & Fork, Potomac Wine & Spirits; on the list at Bistrot Lepic, Brasserie Beck. In Virginia, on the list at Screwtop Wine Bar & Cheese Shop in Arlington.

Key

***Exceptional  **Excellent *Very Good

Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

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