Here is the premise for this vinous COT clash, first conceived towards the tail end of last Sunday at the shop (one of the advantages of working on Sundays is that the inevitable down time allows for some inspired moments of genius): Malbec, that increasingly rarely found Bdx blending grape, exclusive component of the formerly distinctive, once impenetrable 'black wines' of Cahors in southern France, and fruity component of many a wine from Mendoza, Argentina, might make some truly interesting wines in the Loire Valley, where it is known as 'Cot.' Why not taste a couple side-by -side, cipha' style, and see what each wine has to say?
Our two competitors are Clos Roche Blanche, probably best known for their delicous sauvignon blanc, and La Grange Tiphaine, a smaller winery whose Loire Valley star status is quickly rising under the incredibly talented Damien Delecheneau. The wines are the 2004 Clos Roche Blanche Cot and 2005 La Grange Tiphaine Cot Vielles Vignes, both produced in the Touraine AOC. Well, the results proved to be very interesting indeed.
Though these are two versions of Cot, from the same appellation, with the only apparent difference being the vintage and producer, the contrast between the two wines is dramatic. Whereas the Clos Roche Blanche is an opaque, dense purple color, the Grange Tiphaine is more violet and translucent, with bright purplish tints along the rim. Clos Roche Blanche smells of cassis at first, but then takes on an aromatic spiciness not unlike a Rhone wine. Meanwhile the Grange Tiphaine is all primary fruit on the nose, leading to a very sappy, '05 styled palate. It is reminiscent of Cab Franc. The Clos Roche Blanche, on the other hand, is darker, with more of a plum skin and dark cherry quality, as well as a persistent spice character. Some mouthfuls are floral, redolent of violets.
While I enjoyed both of these wines, I'd have liked to have had them with some more appropriate food, maybe some duck terrine or at the least some sauteed chicken sausage and fennel pasta, or sumthin'. What I ended up doing was slicing some Acme bread, a bit of Monte Enebro (tasty aged Spanish goat cheese from Avila, just north of Madrid), roasting a few red peppers and making a salad. Oh well, where there is good bread, tasty cheese and distinctive wine, at least there is a nutritious, satisfying light meal, if not the most ambitious or perfectly food-wine matched.
Though I'd have judged this freestyle battle a draw, my roommate Natalie gave the edge to La Grange Tiphaine. All results aside, I'd be interested in learning some more of the differences between these wines in terms of soil and, possibly more importantly, vinification. Yes, '05 and '04 are a world apart but there seems to be more going on here than mere vintage differences.