We are familiar with names of great French Bordeaux wines like Château Lafite Rothschild, that sell out immediately, year after year, and command prices that average, for the 2009 vintage, $1500 a bottle.

When it comes to Roll Royce wines, the French have never lost their touch. The problem is, I haven’t seen any Roll Royces driving around Whitehorse lately.

I want a Subaru-quality wine, and the French have failed monumentally at this over the last 15 years.

Italy, Spain, Australia, Argentina, Chile, and increasingly Canada, have begun to crank out predictably tasty wines for under $20, but I have spent the last five years trying to find something French in this price range that really rings my chimes.

Well, I’ve found it!

Check out the 2009 Domaine de Cause Malbec, from the Cahors Appelation ($17.90). It’s so good on so many levels.

The Cahors Appellation is the poor, country cousin of the world famous Bordeaux region. It has all the winemaking tradition of that storied region, uses the same grapes, has many of the same geographical aspects and makes many of the same blends.

Cahors wine was present at the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine with Henry II of England, and Pope John XXII, born in Cahors, drank it both recreationally and sacramentally.

The problem is, this wine if from the “wrong side of the tracks,” and has recently been outshone by the Bordeaux region to the west. This has fueled the interest of Cahors winemakers to create some truly good and reasonably priced wines over the past decade.

It’s interesting how much Cahors winemakers have invested in re-inventing Malbec wines in France. Malbec has become Argentina’s signature red wine, but those Malbec grapes were brought from France to be planted in Argentina in the 1850s and 1860s.

In the last 20 years, Cahors winemakers have repatriated their long absent French grape, and made Cahors the premiere Malbec-grape growing region in France.

The YLC also carries another Cahors Malbec, from Maison Rigal ($17.20).

Spend the extra $0.70.

Sp why is the 2009 Domaine de Cause Malbec so good?

First, the colour. Cahors wines are traditionally described as “black wines.” They are a deep, rich purple colour in the glass, but when you hold this one up to the light, the purity of its rich red hue make it one of the most pleasingly-coloured wines I have ever seen in the glass.

Then there’s the bouquet — definitely “old world” rather than “new world.” It’s subtle, not overly oaky, reminding me of the better Bordeaux wines — very different than any of the Argentinean Malbecs I’ve had.

Taste: think rich red currants and cherries, a little pepper, tobacco, but neither too tannic nor too oaky. Just right.

I had it with a turkey casserole, and it worked perfectly, complementing the creaminess of the mushrooms and noodles — preparing my palate for the next bite. Last night I had it again with burgers, and it was equally good.

I can’t wait to see if my wine enthusiast friends are equally impressed.

Give it a try, perhaps in back-to-back tasting with an Argentinean Malbec. Drop me a line at pmturnerjr@yahoo.com and tell me what you think.