The original Malbec Cahors wine on our cycling tours

February 21, 2014 by
Filed under: France 

A short history of Malbec Cahors wine

Malbec wine has recently become more popular principally through the marketing of the Argentina variety. This is mainly grown in the Mendoza region of Argentina originally for the US market because of its less tannic and full bodied than the Cahors versions. All Argentinan Malbec vines were brought from the Cahors region in around mid 19th century when Miguel Pouget brought grapevine cuttings from France.

Malbec Cahors the black wine







Malbec Cahors vineyards were first planted by the Romans in most of the Lot department but now just extend along the western side of the Lot Valley. Their height of popularity was in the 12th century when Eleanor of Aquitaine married  Henri Plantagenet in 1152.

In 1310 the wines of Quercy (the original larger department of the Lot and the Lot and Garronne) accounted for 50% of all exports from the Port of Bordeaux – some 85 million litres of wine, most of which was for English consumption.

However Phylloxera in the 1860s destroyed nearly all the vines in the Cahors area over the next 10 years.

Because of the rise in popularity of the South American Malbecs the original “black wine” of Cahors is now making a comeback. In order for it to be a Cahors wine it must have a minimum of 70% Malbec grape content. There are only two other grape varieties allowed to be added to the wine, they are Merlot and Tannant.

 Malbec Cahors glass

On our cycling tours we visit Malbec Cahors wine chateaux for tastings one of these being Chateau Chantelle (at the end of the day, so no cycling afterwards). Our table wine each evening is supplied by Chateau Chantelle a family run business on the borders of the river Lot in the Lot Valley.

Their website (in French):  Domaine de Chantelle

Most chateaux have three levels of wine, the first is normally called Tradition, the Chantelle version is 70% Malbec and 30% Merlot produced via stainless steel tanks.

Their next is a Prestige which is the same mix as before but kept in used oak barrels for at least a year.

Their top wine La Passion 100% Malbec and from their best grapes from old vines at a higher elevation and kept in new oak barrels for at least a year.

All are eminently drinkable but of course the best is the 100% Malbec, but (this is crucial) it must have time to breathe. In fact I would open in the morning for an evening drink with your meal.

La Passion 100% Malbec Cahors wine

We occasionally run Malbec Cahors wine tours via minibus one of which was reviewed by The Guardian (UK) newspaper.

See if you can find an original “black wine” of Cahors to give yourself a true taste of the south west of France.

Author: John Despard


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