Where I come from, fall is a relief. Summer is hot and humid and winter is long and unfriendly. Fall, most Midwesterners agree, is the best time of year when it comes to weather.
It’s a short window of time, the truly kind season, so it’s common for people to fall into tradition to make the most of nostalgia and comfort. But we’ve got nothing to lose if we shake things up a bit — if we try new things. Like, perhaps, a new wine.
Cahors (“kah-OR”) wines are made from malbec, a variety featured on wine lists around the world. It’s a marginal member of the classic Bordeaux blending crew (found more in Côtes de Bordeaux than elsewhere) and Argentine growers have embraced malbec in such a way that their treatment could be seen as a full-on revival. A dash is also grown in the Loire Valley.
Called côt or auxxerois, malbec from Cahors is a plump purple wine that expresses sometimes bitter or savory red fruit flavors laced with a leathery or woody tone. Cahors has earned the nickname of the black wine, with stern tannins and a dark robe. While still in line with the typicity of the grape, modern growers have maintained that dark berry, smoky and peppery deliciousness while enhancing red fruits and florals and lightening the overall impression (in body and flavor).
In the small village of the same name, Cahors wines are the main game. This little village is located along the River Lot in southwest France, in the Occitanie department with wines that identify with a Sud-Ouest classification. One of the oldest grape growing regions in France, river access allowed Cahors wines mobility and earned Cahors a place on the tables of royalty.
Cahors earned appellation status in 1971 and much has changed over the years. Recent acknowledgment of the complexity of soils and altitude have prompted attentive growers to garner new levels of quality in their wines. This isn’t a region I’ve visited personally, but I’ve read that the quality is there but can be inconsistent, and much of this variation is due to grower outlook.
Cahors wines are a fun study, and the meals of fall make worthy companions for this French wine. Cahors has the backbone to suit meat-centered dinners — think roasted pork, grilled sirloin or slow-roasted tri-tip. Classic cassoulet, or other bean and sausage dishes make good partners, as would substantial veggies, such as mushrooms or high-temp roasted cauliflower.
Wine to try:
Château Lamartine Prestige du Malbec, 2014 ($17.99, sample) is grown on soils comprised of 60% clay-limestone, 20% silex (flinty) clay and 20% limestone by Alain Gayraud, who was born in the château. Gayraud practices organic (not-certified) and uses ambient yeast on this wine. Located in the westernmost swath of Cahors, the vineyards of Lamartine gain a bit of Atlantic influence. This is a dark wine, with wood and cherry on the nose, full fruit and floral mouthfeel, long finish.
Interested in learning more about Cahors? Follow the Winophiles Twitter chat on Saturday, September 15, 2018, with our hashtag: #Winophiles.
These writers have prepared background stories packed with history, food-pairings and perspective. Join us in our chat and brush up on Cahors with the following articles:
Rob from Odd Bacchus tells the real deal on Cahors: A LOT to Love
Liz from What’s In That Bottle paints the place Red Wine & Black All Over
Wendy from A Day In The Life On The Farm tempts the crowd with Basque Chicken Stew paired with Black Wine
Payal from Keep the Peas gives us a bit of everything we want with White Wine, Red Wine, Black Wine, Cahors!
Camilla from Culinary Adventures With Camilla gets the party going with Grilled Lamb Sirloin with Cedre Heritage 2015
Rupal from Journeys Of A Syrah Queen inspires and delights with Crocus Wines – Exploring Cahors With Paul Hobbs
Jeff from Food Wine Click may be getting us in trouble with Forbidden Foods and Stinky Cahors
Robin from Crushed Grape Chronicles gets out the map and takes us to Cahors – Malbec from along the winding river Lot
Here on L’Occasion, we share Cahors: Your Favorite Wine For Fall