This month’s #Winophiles is about wines from Cahors. When I saw that Nicole from Somm’s Table was hosting this month about this topic, I was very excited. I attended a seminar some years ago on Cahors at the Society of Wine Educators conference and found it fascinating. Nicole has written some incredible posts about the region in her preview and invitation pieces that it seems there is little I can add but I did learn some interesting history about the region. For her invitation post click here and for the preview post, click here.
Famous from the Roman Era, apparently, the 13th century was considered the Golden Age of Cahors. It was known as the Black wine of England and was said to be on the table at Eleanor of Acquitaine’s marriage to Henry II. Cahors proximity to the Lot River meant that the wines could be transported out of this landlocked area but it’s nearness to Bordeaux proved to be a mixed bag. For many years the wines of Cahors were blended with Bordeaux whiles to make them darker in color. Cahors also graced the Pope’s table when the Papacy was in Avignon. Jacques Dueze better known as Pope John XXII (1316-1334) was from Cahors. These wines were much loved by the Russian Czar as well, according to my notes from the seminar. These black wines are made from 70% Malbec with the other 30% being Merlot or Tannat.
My notes mention the Pont Valentré, a beautiful 14th century bridge which is a Unesco World Heritage site since 1998. While this bridge survived, the vines did not. Phylloxera hit the region hard and there were no old vines that survived that blight. Fast forward to the 1956 frost that gripped parts of France and once again, Cahors was hit hard.
While Bordeaux basically forgot about Malbec after the frost, Cahors did not but since all the vineyards were wiped out, they had to replant. For this reason, the AOC was only recognized in 1971 although it is such a historic area. This is a red wine only AOC. Georges Vigouroux is credited with replanting Malbec, 60 hectares. Finally in the 1980’s, Cahors began to come back.
In my notes, I wrote Malbec is a diva. Today there are some 300 producers of Cahors, only a small percentage of the wine comes to the U.S. and most is consumed domestically.
The wineries are now on their second generation who have experience with their wines and terroir.
Chateau de Haut Serres was famous since the 1800s but was abandoned when Vigouroux took it over. He replanted vines by hand and revived the old traditions and his first vintage was 1976. Considered a Cru in Cahors, today, his son runs the show.
The soils in the area are also of note. I have in my notes that the soils are not that old just about 1 million years and that they have pockets of clay and iron.
Many of the wineries have a Grand Vin and others that are more approachable.The vineyard where the grapes for the Grand Vin are grown at Haut Serres are at 1000 feet, the highest possible elevation. I wrote that the 2014 was silky and velvety on the palate with plush tannins, aromas and flavors of black and red fruit, sweet spice, cedar, and bramble.
I also tried a wine from Chateau Leret Monpezat, the Grand Vin 2012 Terrasses. The soils here were limestone with alluvial deposits as well. At 400 feet above sea level. Made from 80% Malbec with 20% Merlot, I thought the wine was fresh with bright cherry flavors, spice and acid. While 2012 was a difficult vintage, Cahors had less rain than expected.
I also tried another wine from Chateau de Mercuès called Cuvee 6666. This was 100% Malbec and quite extracted in my view, more than I expected. I tasted the 2011 but at the time, in 2015 it was too young. Grown at 400 feet on high density planted vineyards with 6666 vines per hectare, this wine was all about power and concentration. In the invitation post Nicole talks about the terrasses in Cahors. This wine is from the third terrasses.
I also tried a wine from Crocus Wines, the company created by Paul Hobbes and Bertrand Gabriel Vigouroux in 2011 to create modern wines from Malbec in its home terroir – Cahors. I tried their Crocus Atelier from a mix of fruit from the 3rd and 4th terrasses. I also tried their Cuvée Prestige which had length and concentration.
I can’t wait to read everyone’s posts on the region and on the wines they tried.
If you find this topic as interesting as I did, please join us on Saturday, October 19th at 8:00 am Pacific time / 11:00 am Eastern time on Twitter by following the hashtag #Winophiles. We’ll get together there to discuss the region’s wine and food.
My fellow bloggers will be sharing these posts:
- Jane from Always Ravenous explores the “Flavors of Fall Paired with Cahors Malbec”
- Cathie of Side Hustle Wino looks at “Cahors – The Birthplace of Malbec”
- Jill from L’Occasion shares “Cahors, a French Classic”
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla will be posting “Château du Cèdre Extra Libre 2018 Malbec + Cider-Braised Chicken Thighs”
- Wendy Klik of A Day in the Life on the Farm samples “A Trio of Cahors Wine and the Pairings Served”
- Jeff of FoodWineClick! gives us “The Malbec You Never Knew: Cahors”
- Linda of My Full Wine Glass shares “Newbies to Old-World Malbec Discover Cahors”
- Cindy of Grape Experiences explores “The Old-World Style of Malbec from Cahors”
- Deanna of Asian Test Kitchen give us “French Malbecs Meet Chinese Duck”
- Gwen from Wine Predator shares “From Cahors: Biodynamic Chateau du Cedre Malbec with French Charcuterie”
- Pinny of Chinese Food & Wine Pairings matches “Cahor Malbecs and Waygu Beef”
- Cynthia and Pierre of Traveling Wine Profs give us “Cahors, Hainan Chicken Rice, and the Stories Wine Books Tell”
- Payal of Keep the Peas discusses “Cahors: What Put Malbec on the Map”
- Rupal of Syrah Queen will posting “Cahors – Tasting “Black Wines” With The Original Malbec”
- David of Cooking Chat pairs “Mushroom Truffle Risotto with Cahors Malbec”
- Our host Nicole will be “Bringing Home Cahors with Clos D’Audhuy” here on Somm’s Table.
- And here at Avvinare.com, I’m “Shedding Light on Old World Malbec from Cahors”
I’m surprised at how young the vines are in Cahors now. Thanks for sharing so much history about the area. What a great trip you had!!
The history of these wines is fascinating! Thanks for sharing.
I love the history! Thanks for sharing and for the kind shout out!