Cahors is a red wine produced in and near the French town of Cahors which is located in the South Western department of Lot. Winemaking in this area has a long history and there are records of vines planted in Roman times. Wine from the region was served at the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine with Henry II of England, Pope John XXII used it for drinking and sacramental wine as did the Russian Orthodox Church.
Cahors is also famously know as the “Black Wine of Lot” or “Black Wine” as, due to Malbec’s good pigmentation from a high level of anthocyanins in the grape skins, it had a reputation for producing heavy, dark red wines. Perhaps it is not surprising that some Cahors used to find its way to Bordeaux to add a bit more colour and body to Claret. Anthocyanins are the phenolic compounds in purple grapes that have attracted a lot of scientific interest into their properties for human health.
Cahors was awarded its Appellation Controllee in 1971 and this may only be used for red wines. Any white or rosé wines made in the region are classified as Vin de Pays du Lot. Cahors legally must be made from at least 70% Malbec with the remaining 30% normally being Merlot and sometimes Tannat (made famous in Madiran). Today there are over some 4600 hectares of vineyards.
Other Names for Malbec
Locally Malbec is mainly known as Cot or Auxerrois but it has many other names including Cot Noir, Pressac, Noir de Pressac and Gros Noir. Malbec is also grown in the Bordeaux wine-making region where it is only really used as a small part of a wine’s blend.
Styles of Cahors
Cahors always had a reputation for producing rather tannic, tough wines that needed quite a lot of ageing for them to soften and become approachable. Today, with modern wine-making techniques and the prevalence of soft, juicy and accessible Malbecs from Argentina (where it is now considered the national grape) there is a move to softer and rounder wines that are more drinkable in their youth. Typically wines from Cahors have a good ageing potential due to their good tannin structure and are characterised as having good aromatic complexity with lots of black fruit notes (berries, cherries and plums) along with notes of liquorice, toast and leather, depending on a wines particular oak regime. However wines can run the gamut from lighter and fruity styles up to big, brooding intense and complex wines. Famous producers include Chateau Pineraie, Chateau de Chambert, Chateau Lagrazette and Domaine Coss-Maisonneuve.