Château la Coustarelle Grande Cuvée Prestige 2005
Mt. Kisco Wines & Spirits
Retail price: around $18.99
Decanting the Beast
Lately we have seen many popular malbecs from Argentina. But as with numerous New World wines, Argentine malbec is the scion of a classic French grape. Historically malbec has been relied on as a supporting player, giving “backbone” to Bordeaux blends, its dark thick skin adding heft and color. Away from Bordeaux, however, in the region of Cahors (southwestern France) malbec is le roi. The 2005 Cuvée Prestige from Château la Coustarelle is a massive 90 percent malbec, with the remaining 10 percent tannat (itself a cousin to malbec).
Immediately after opening the bottle, one senses adventure. Initial aromas of vanilla and tobacco, and woodsy notes, seem to explode from the glass, making way for the intriguing and downright gamy barnyard experience that follows. The second wave of aromatics includes suede, saddle leather and horsehide galloping across the palate, running to what I sometimes refer to as the fantasy factory. I imagine the wine’s esprit du cheval engaging in a wild chase; lathered stallions gamboling in a bois joli of wildflowers, ferns, oregano and thyme.
Beware. When a wine combines this much giddyap with substantial tannins, decanting to let the wine aerate is an obvious countermeasure. After one and a half hours in the decanter, l’esprit du cheval had run its course and the wine acquiesced, tannins tamed out of their early rustic nature. One could now enjoy the wine without the need to hold on to a door frame for support. The decanted version brought forward rich flavors of roasted fruits, prunes and leather like that of a well-worn saddle, broken in and comfortable on the palate. Deciding when a wine is ready to drink is a subjective process. If you enjoy the excitement of la chasse, you needn’t wait to drink the 2005 La Coustarelle, but decanting it will improve your experience.
Excellent with grilled meat, gamy dishes served with roasted fruit, or rustic pizza topped with fresh oregano and thyme.