Grapes and Wine in Cahors
What makes CAHORS so SPECIAL?
The Cahors wine region is located in the lot Valley. It is a compact area that is 60 kms long by 30 kms wide, comprising 4250 acres with 45 villages. Cahors lies between the 44th and 45th Parallels, being equidistant (200 km) from the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Pyrenees. This geographical position ensures that the vineyard is protected from both the Atlantic humidity and the Mediterranean downpours in the autumn, thus resulting in a ripening of the crop without rain, through a sunny late summer. However the region is a land of extreme weather conditions. Summers can be very hot and dry, with winters that are cold and dry, and they can be very cold indeed. In February 1956 the big freeze was so bad and so long that all the vines were virtually wiped out. This resulted in the region being replanted with quality vines on virus-free rootstock. Hence the oldest vines in the region are now 60 years old.
The vineyards are situated on either the sheltered terraces of the Lot Valley with alluvial deposits along with gravel and chalky stone deposits; on the slopes, where it is mainly deposits of quartz pebbles, gravel and chalky stones; or on the limestone plateau of the Causse, where the soil was formed by sea deposits comprising clay with rocky limestone with a high red iron-oxide content.
The traditional vineyard planting consists of:
Malbec (locally called Auxerrois or Cot Noir) 80% with a minimum of 70% in the encepagement (mixture of grape varieties).
And combined not exceeding 30% of the planting: Merlot—about 15%, Tannat—about 5%
Most of the oak-aged Cahors will be 100% Malbec.
Cahors wine has a bright, often deep red colour tending to be almost black in some vintages. Hence the term “the Black wine of Cahors”. It is a tannic wine, very full in the mouth. With age it becomes more refined, velvety and attains some very distinguished aromas such as leather, chocolate, plums and tobacco. Blending with merlot has produced much more ready-to-drink wines.
So let's go and discover more about the grapes and wines of Cahors.
Principal CAHORS Grape Varieties
(locally called Cot or Auxerrois)
Malbec gives Cahors wine its tannin, black colour and ability to age. Traditionally must account for 70% of total vine stock.
Merlot gives roundness, mellowness and bouquet to Cahors wine.
Tannat is a grape of the South west of France (Madiran) big on tannins and long aging.
CAHORS WINE REGION
Modern vineyard management is evident in the Cahors wine region. Largely due to replanting after the 1956 frost, the move has been to multi-wire trellises with steel standards. Vine training and positioning ends to be using the vertical shoot position method with leaf plucking evident.
Cahors vineyard mangement:
On the terraces of the Lot, the vineyards are made of subsoil composed of old alluvium and limestone plateau with clay and marl. Vineyards are often cultivated with grass between rows or at least every second row. Soil consisting of broken limestone with marl and clay. 30-year-old vines shown.
FACTS ON GRAPE GROWING AND WINE-MAKING in CAHORS
Name: Appellation Cahors Controlée
Location: Largely west of the city of Cahors on both banks of the Lot River
Vineyards: 472 grape growers
Places: Les Roques, Douelle, Vire sur Lot, Soturac, Prayssac.
Size of the vineyards: 4,250 ha (10,400 acres)
Production volume: 30 million bottles Red wine only
Soil: Various: Clayey-limestone, limestone, siliceous and chalky soils
Weather: Continential with very hot, long, dry summers and very cold, dry winters