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Château Haut-Monplaisir, Cahors

"Haut-Monplaisir is obviously a promising terroir, making this a name to watch." (Andrew Jefford, The New France, Mitchell Beazley)

Château Haut Monplaisir is based in the commune of Lacapelle-Cabanac, west of Cahors. The 28 ha estate is on the so-called third terrace of layered gravel deposits covered with galets. Cathy Fournié took over the estate in 1998 from her father who had sold everything off to négociants but, with her husband Daniel, she decided to pursue estate-bottling and they enlisted the help of Pascal Verhaeghe of nearby Château du Cèdre (on the second terrace) who saw the potential and became, effectively, technical director of the estate. The red wines are pure Malbec, the ultimate expression of the traditional black wines of Cahors. They are very rich with a Claret-like depth at a fraction of the price. The Founiés have recently decided to go a step further than lutte raisonnée, having started the conversion process to organic status. More...

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I met up with Daniel on a hot day in August 2009 and had a lengthy tour of the vineyards - the only problem was that he talks incredibly quickly and I found it quite difficult to keep up with him! It became easier when I started asking him questions about going organic, perhaps because I had stopped him in his tracks; perhaps because this is still quite new (although the vineyards have been all but organic for years) and he is still formulating his ideas. The tasting that followed was very illuninating as much of my experience of Cahors (lead by the wines of Lamartine and some others) was of Malbec blended with Merlot or, better, Tannat. The pure Malbec wines have a different character and the organic status adds to this purity.

There are three cuvées of Cahors all using micro-oxygenation to help tame Malbec's often ferocious tannins and all bottled unfiltered: a Tradition which can be enjoyed fairly young but is at its best between 6 and 10 years; "Prestige" which is from older vines is evidently oak-aged and richer, a wine to age 10 to 15 years although it can be broached from around five years after the vintage if you can handle the tannin. Finally, the "Pur Plaisir" is almost black, very rich and very long, aged in 500-litre demi-muids.

See also: South-West France    Cahors   

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