Cahors is a protected French designation encompassing the vineyards surrounding the city of the same name in South West France. It received its AOC in 1971.
Along with other regions, including Bergerac and Gaillac, Cahors enjoyed a sensational reputation for its wines in the early 12th century, even before Bordeaux wine gained recognition. The very same Bordelaise wine merchants, though, eventually displaced Cahors wine in favor of their own crops.
The scavenging phylloxera severely damaged Cahors’ gnarly vines in the late 19th century and the ‘Big Freeze’ of 1956 hammered the last nail in the coffin for Cahors’ famous ‘black wine'. An inky, dark fruit forward, pronounced flavoured wine. It took decades for the region to recover, but it’s now, once again, considered amongst the finest in the area.
Cahors is located 160km east of Bordeaux and 210 km from the Atlantic Coast. The landlocked region gets much less maritime influence than Bordeaux, meaning the weather is more continental — warmer days and cooler nights.
The dry, hilly region, which receives only around 700mm of rain, is divided into a calcareous plateau and gravelly banks that force the grapevines to dig deep for water. The lower humidity is also a quality factor; it keeps the vines safe from fungal disease. This is indeed a fantastic terroir, ideal for crafting fine, concentrated red wine.
Winemakers produce Cahors wine in the villages of Mercuès, Parnac, Luzech, Prayssac, Grézels, Puy-l'Éveque and Vire sur Lot in a 40km stretch of land along the Lot river that eventually feeds the famous Garonne. Despite the relatively large extension, there are no official subregions in Cahors.
Grape growers farm around 10,000 acres of vineyards, with an average density of 4000 vines per hectare to produce an average of three million cases of red wine every season. And thanks to the region’s recent popularity, today you can find the rustic red wine all around the world. Cahors is back on the map.
Producers in Cahors are only allowed to make red wine, mainly with the now-famous grape variety Malbec.
Wines vary depending on the micro-climate and the soil type, but it’s safe to say Cahors wine is always deep-hued and concentrated. It brings forward black and blue fruit aromas with fluttering hints of withered violets over a chewy palate of round, rustic tannins held together by a tight acidity.
Compared to Argentina’s Malbec, Cahors is not about ripe jammy fruit and heavy oak spices, but earth-driven aromas and a more sophisticated and elegant profile. Cahors might be a warm region, specifically compared to neighboring Bordeaux, but the Argentine vineyards are sunnier and warmer — this means riper grapes, more alcoholic wines and sweeter palates.
Cahors might be a subtler, more structured version of Malbec, but what it lacks in ripeness, it has in versatility at the table.
Cahors is all about Malbec, locally called Auxerrois or Côt.
According to the region’s wine law, Malbec must comprise between 70% and 100% of the wine. Still, Malbec has trustworthy stablemates: Merlot and Tannat.
The fleshy Merlot and the structured Tannat can make up to thirty percent of the blend, although it’s more common to see Cahors as a Malbec mono-varietal wine.
Malbec is a thin-skinned grape that needs more warmth and sun exposure to ripen, especially compared to other famous varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon. Yet, Malbec can develop a competitive, vibrant dark hue, which helped Cahors’ region gain a centuries-old reputation.
This stunning 100% Malbec has a significant concentration that gives the wine an excellent aging potential.
The Georges Vigouroux estate sits along the Lot River, and it’s the meeting point for tradition and modernity — all with the single purpose of showing what great Malbec can do.
Blackberries, black cherries and flowers embellish a thick palate of round tannins that unfolds in the palate, revealing the most succulent fruit-forward flavours extending long into the aftertaste. Enjoy with fatty prime steaks, a rack of lamb, and hard cheese.
What does Cahors Wines taste like?
Cahors wines are always red and have an intense dark color. On the nose, Cahors wines offer an array of dark fruit aromas, blackberries, black currants and black cherries with hints of violets along with subtle oak spices and vanilla. The palate is round and coating with a lengthy fruit-scented aftertaste.
How does Cahors Malbec differ in style from Argentinian Malbec?
Argentine Malbec grapes ripen much more than their French counterparts thanks to South America’s warm sunlight. This makes the New World wines riper, sweeter and more alcoholic than the authentic Malbec from Cahors. Cahors is more about structure, a refined palate and a very gastronomic-friendly acidity.
Which food groups pair well with Cahors AOC wine?
Anything kissed by smoke and fire pairs well with Cahors. Prime beef cuts, especially if fatty. Lamb, smoked brisket, sticky pork ribs, and grilled vegetables. Hearty stews and broths are also compatible with the style, and so are hard and semi-hard cheese. You can pair Cahors wine in the same way you would pair a fine Bordeaux.