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Cahors


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Though it is debated whether it is the best appellation in Southwest France, there is no doubt that Cahors is the most unusual. The red wines are made mostly from Malbec, a grape never used varietally anywhere else in France. The wines combine the raw, woody power of Malbec with the richness and balance of great Bordeaux, and the results are excellent. Only red wines are made, with the whites classified under a separate vin de pays designation.

An estimated 10,000 acres of vineyards are used for the production of Cahors. Most of the wines are produced in the eponymous village; Cahors is the capital of the Lot departément and has a rich history. About 3 million cases of wine are produced annually.

History

The town of Cahors has a long history, as a result of which it is a popular place for sightseeing. Unfortunately, the economy has been in decline since the Middle Ages, since many of the manufacturing plants once located there have moved to other towns.

Originally, Cahors was considered part of Bordeaux, and the wines were revered all over Europe by royalty and commoners alike. However, between the phylloxera epidemic and the separation of Cahors and Bordeaux, the reputation of the area was dealt a serious blow. In fact, Cahors did not receive AOC status until 1971. Since then, however, Cahors wines have gradually reclaimed their reputation, and are now known as great expressions of the Malbec grape.

Climate and Viticulture

As a result of Cahors' many soil types, the wines made here are quite diverse. The soil ranges from the alluvial limestone of the hillside terraces, to the clay of the higher, cooler hillside slopes, to the gravel banks near the river interspersed with quartzite pebbles. The vineyards located in these places each make different types of wine.

Grape Varieties

As is well known, Cahors is the only French AOC that makes wine with a high percentage of Malbec. While many Bordeaux châteaux still use Malbec in their blends, it rarely makes up more than 5% of the total mixture, and in the rest of France usage is even more uncommon. In Cahors Malbec must make up at least 70% of the blend! Cahors wines are particularly powerful, robust, ageworthy Malbecs. They mix the richness of Bordeaux Cabernet with the woody power of Argentine Malbec. This style is idiosyncratic and no similar wines exist, even in Argentina.

Producers do have the option of using up to 30% Merlot and Tannat. Neither are very common, so many of the wines are varietal Malbec.

Major Producers

Cahors wines' ever-increasing renown makes the wines easy to find in the United States and other countries. Almost all the Cahors producers are able to deliver the magic, but seven in particular should be noted.

Subregions

Cahors has no subregions, despite its size.