For most people, Malbec is synonymous with Argentina. And indeed, the Malbec grape found its true home in the Argentine terroir. It’s where nearly 70% of all Malbec vineyards are located! But it has its roots in France -- specifically, a region named Cahors, in South West France.
Cahors used to be part of neighboring Bordeaux, and they both plant Malbec-- it is still one of only five grapes allowed in red Bordeaux blends. The wines of Cahors were once considered some of the best in the world. They were even better known and regarded than Bordeaux or Burgundy. During the Middle Ages, Cahors was drank all over Europe by kings, emperors, and Popes. It was served at the wedding of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henry II of England. In Cahors, Malbec also goes by the name Côt or Auxerrois, and in medieval times it was known as “black wine” for its inky rich color. There was even a saying that “If you can see your fingers through the glass of wine, then it isn't Cahors.” The area is still devoted to Malbec, and it pairs well with the specialities of the region: truffles, duck, and foie gras. The town itself of Cahors is located on a U-shaped bend of the Lot river, surrounded by water on three sides. It still has many buildings and ruins dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries.
Compared to a Malbec from Argentina, Cahors offers more structure, firmer tannins, and a bit more elegance. It’s a great snow day wine -- that is, it pairs really well with the kind of hours-long cooking projects that I like to save for snowy days at home: pork braises, stewed beef, or slow-roasted lamb. And this winter, we all need lots (and lots, and lots…) of snow day wine.
So here's a Great Sip: Gouleyant, Georges Vigouroux, Cahors FRA $14
If I’ve managed to convince you to try Cahors, pick up a bottle of Gouleyant from Georges Vigouroux. Georges Vigouroux has been making wine in Cahors since 1887. The name “Gouleyant” translates from French to mean “gulpable,” or easy-drinking and crushable. Though it has that classic inky-black color, the wine itself is bright, elegant, and subtle. It’s medium-to-full bodied and full of dark wild fruit flavors. Floral and cassis notes on the nose lead to rich blackberry fruit, a touch of smoke and spice, and moderate supple tannins. Honest and rustic, this wine will hopefully make the piles of snow outside seem a little more manageable.
Read about Argentinian Malbecs here.