Drive On, Dionysus
Now tell the truth. Would you go chasing all over the countryside for these two guys? What’s that you say, either one of them? Well then, we’re in synch.
‘Twas a dark and stormy day when we embarked on our last road trip in this corner of France. We were in search of the black wine of Cahors, and weren’t going to be deterred by a little rain and thunder.
We crossed over the Lot river, leaving behind the Tarn et Garonne that’s been our home these past five weeks, and entering into a wild and wine-soaked part of France.
The harvest is over here, and the vines are turning. Cahors wines are made of mainly Malbec, known locally as Auxerrois or Côt, plus a little merlot and tannat. You probably think of Malbec as a wine from Argentina, but they had it here first. In fact, the Romans appreciated it, trade wars have simmered over it, it was exported to Russia in the time of Peter the Great, and it tastes not a whit like its South American cousin.
We headed first to Clos de Gamot in Prayssac, hoping to buy some of the wine that accompanied this meal. After tasting through 5 years of their excellent wines, I was very happy to come away with a few cases of their delicious 2002 that’s 100% Malbec, although not actually black. I was also happy to see that an ancient and venerable wine house
retains a proper sense of perspective. The poster rhymes nicely in French, although the translation doesn’t: one glass opens the way, three glasses bring joy. Their wines made me really wish I had a cellar, since they’ll only keep getting better over the next 10-15 years. However, the 2002 is ready to start drinking now, and that’s just what I plan to do.
The wines I wanted to compare with the Clos de Gamot were wines from Chateau de Gaudou in Vire-sur-Lot, also hundreds of years old and widely venerated. I was interested because this domaine is represented in the US by our friend Michel Abood of Vinotas Selections, and if Michel likes it, I’m pretty sure to like it too. These wines are made in a more modern style and are ready to drink earlier, but are still very carefully structured and complex. And they’re more nearly black, but not inky like I was expecting. I guess that actually black wine doesn’t exist anymore, with modern winemaking techniques. Or maybe it was just poetry all along.
Fabrice Durou took the time to let me taste through a large selection of their wines
while his Dad Jean Durou undertook the less glamorous task of repairing the bottle labeling machine.
The low point of the day came when I found out that my two favorite wines weren’t available to buy, although I felt a little better when I learned that the 1994 that I totally loved would cost, if it were available, which it isn’t, about 200 Euros for a half bottle. Oh well, at least I got to taste it, and if only all the wines that pass my lips were that good, I might have to give up food altogether and just stick to drink. But although the ones we did bring home are pretty darn good indeed, it’s just that I’m permanently spoiled by that little half bottle of 15 year old magic potion.
Leaving Chateau de Gaudou we admired the pastoral and peaceful view they have out over the valley,
although just 40 minutes down the road we found ourselves in a sort of gravel dune desert.
We crossed back across the Lot with a little sigh of regret. It’s a remarkable countryside, deserted, wild, alternately forested and teeming with vines as far as the eye can see. There’s wine on every corner, and I wish we’d had time to taste more of them, although we really started at the top and so avoided disappointment.
And now our wine bounty is fighting for trunk space with other essentials like clothing, because tomorrow we leave here and head to our home in Uzès. I have lots more to tell you and show you about this part of France, but that will have to wait for a day or two or three, until we get settled in and back in the swing of normal life. In the morning we’ll stuff Beppo and Zazou in the car, in amongst the wine bottles, and head off into the east. See you when we get there.
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