This is the year of Malbec! For me anyway, as earlier this year I made my way down to Mendoza, Argentina to swirl, taste and learn about the wines and culture from this south american malbec powerhouse.
Fast forward a couple of months, when I was invited to attend a malbec conference in Cahors, France. The timing was perfect! Not only did I still have malbec fresh on my mind, I welcomed the opportunity to compare and contrast how these two countries work with and interpret or vinify the same varietal given their climatic, soil type and cultural differences.
What followed were 3 days of educating Mumu on the “Black Wine of Cahors” a.k.a. malbec/cot or auxerrois. By way of seminars, vineyard visits, tastings, picnics, winery tours and of course drinking lots of teeth staining malbec, I learned much about wines, food and culture of Cahors.
But before I dive deep into the deep purple india ink (an apropos descriptor courtesy of Patrick Comiskey) that is Cahors, let me give you the skinny on this viticultural wine growing region.
Wine Region: Cahors
Location: Located within the Quercy district in southwest France, and at the northern boundry of the Midi–Pyrénées region.
Latitude: 44 degrees
Significant Geographical markers: The Lot river. Gramat (limestone) Causse.
Climate: Mild continental with maritime influences.
Average Annual rainfall: 780mm
Soil: Clay, limestone and gravel.
Largely alluvial and sedimentary, with 3 terrassed configurations that follow the Lot River. Vineyard sites found on these 3 terraces as well as the border of the limestone plateau (causse) that eventually slopes into the Lot river valley. A total of 9 different classified terroirs.
A.O.C. status granted: 1971
Principal Towns: Grezels, Puy-l’Eveque, Prayssac, Luzech, Cahors, Saint–Géry.
Chief Viticultural Hazards: Frost, downey mildew (fungal disease), rot.
Principal Red Varieties:
Malbec (must constitute a minimum of 70% in blend)
Melot (maximum of 30% in blend)
Tannat (maximum of 30% in blend)
Principal White Varieties: (for Vin de Pays only)
Vine training/pruning: principally Guyot
Total area under vine: 4200 hectares (10,000 acres)
Wine Styles: Cahors is most famously known for producing intense, deeply colored red wines made from malbec (a.k.a. côt). Opaque and inky, it comes as no surprise that in the 19th century these malbecs earned a reputation as “the black wine of Cahors”.
Traditionally, such wines needed several years of ageing to tame their aggressive tannins. However today, a more comprehensive and “user friendly” range of wines can be found in the marketplace. From medium bodied and plummy styles to thick, dense and opaque malbec monsters, there is a Cahors out there for just about any wine drinker to appreciate.
Next: A Lot of great food in Cahors!