A hearty-yet-vibrant, heritage French version of the beloved Malbec grape
Producer: Chateau Combel la Serre
Region: Cahors, SW France
Grapes: 100% Malbec
Flavors: Ripe Plum, Blackberry, Pepper
Pairing: Braised lamb, pot roast
This wine is produced with a fruit-driven expression in mind, and the ripe red berries on the nose and on the palate bely the success of that endeavor. Brilliant, juicy black plum and blackberry notes abound, with a lacy, peppery expression that keeps things interesting. This is a terrific bottle for long braises infused with rosemary and thyme, or even a hearty vegetarian chili.
Although Malbec is perhaps most famous for hailing from Argentina, its origins are in the rugged hills and valleys of Cahors, in Southwest France, where its expression veers away from heady South American coffee and cocoa notes toward something slightly more nuanced. Here, the grape is known by its ancestral names, Auxerrois and/or Côt, depending on where you are and who you’re asking.
“What you get from wine from Cahors is all the things you expect from Argentinian Malbec, in a lighter package,” according to Sommelier Carl York.
Chateau Combel la Serre is stewarded by Julien Ilbert, a young winemaker whose energy and joie de vivre extends to his wines (and his labels). Though his family has grown grapes for generations, estate winemaking wasn’t a significant part of their tradition, and Chateau Combel la Serre is only 13 years old. Still, Julien is one of the region’s most exciting producers, known for thwarting trends and tradition in favor of preserving terroir.