Ep 410: Cahors, France -- the Malbec Capital of the Old World
Cahors is the best-known appellation in Southwest France, likely because the wine of the region is based off a grape everyone knows: Malbec.
Made around the town of Cahors, 160km/100 mi east of Bordeaux, this region hugs the river Lot, and stretches over slopes with such varied soil, each wine is a story of terroir in a bottle. The unique land, combined with an ideal climate, and a history of winemaking that goes back to the Romans contributes to the special combination that creates this earthy, dark fruited, herbal, and powerful red. If you haven’t tried this Old World style of Malbec, after this show, you will be excited to see what you may be missing!
Here are the show notes:
- Here Malbec is AKA -- Auxerrois, Côt (COE). It must be 70% of the blend – the balance is made up with Merlot, or less commonly Tannat. Any white or rosé made in the region is categorized IGP Côtes du Lot
- The planted vineyard area is 3,323 ha/8,211 acres but it stretches across 21,700 hectares/53,622 acres over 45 communes along a section of the River Lot around the town of Cahors
- Most of the winemakers here are independent, private wineries (75%) with just 25% members of the co-op, an impressive breakdown in a smaller region! 75% of the winemakers are working sustainably, with 31% converting to organic or already certified organic.
- The climate of Cahors represents a combination of influences, as the region is about the same distance from Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Pyrenees Mountains. The summers are hot, the fall is dry, and the lack of rain means the roots dig deep to look for nutrients, giving more character to the wine. The Massif Central to the east occasionally blows cold air in the winter, which can cause deep freezes (we go into the endo and eco dormancy, very dorky!).
Source: Getty Images via Canva
- The terroir of Cahors is, to me, the most interesting thing about the area. Most vineyards lie in terraces that are carved out by the river Lot. We discuss the two main areas – the Lot Valley alluvial terraces and the limestone plateau known as the Causses. The Lot Valley, representing 60% of the wine made, has several terraces with gravelly, sandy deposits that range in age from 20,000 years old to 1 million years old. These wines tend to be fruitier, more floral, and lighter in style. The Causses is at elevation and represents slopes covered in clay, limestone, and marl with red, iron-rich soils in some spots. They represent ~ 40% of the vineyard and these wines are more tannic, complex, and age worthy.
- Styles of Cahors: Given the varied terroir, some styles are fruitier and some are earthier. Many have flavors and aromas of fruits and flowers, spice, herbs, and cedar, with underbrush and licorice. They can be dark in color and higher in alcohol. Some are quite tannic, especially those with Tannat as a component. Softer versions have a bigger component of Merlot.
- We end the podcast with a comparison of Argentinean Malbec, noting that Argentina’s Malbec is fruitier, more plummy with soft tannins, higher alcohol, and fine to drink on its own because of its easy to drink profile. Cahors, on the other hand is more tannic, earthier, with more acidity, and may pair better with food because the tannins are firmer, acidity higher.
Source: Getty Images via Canva
If you’ve never tried Cahors, hopefully this will convince you to get a bottle and see what the Malbec of the Old World has to offer!
Much of the information for this podcast is from: https://vindecahors.fr/
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