Cahors - The "Black Wines"

Cahors - The "Black Wines"

Cahors - The "Black Wines"


The wine region of Cahors is located in SW France’s “Hidden Corner” in the heart of Gascony. An area steeped in history through Roman and Medieval times. It has some of France's earliest vines and it’s also Three Muskateers, Armagnac and duck country!

The small town of Cahors lies on the banks of the Lot river and it’s here that the red grapes, synonymous with it’s “Black Wines”, are grown.

Made from predominantly Malbec, Cahors is a robust wine to say the least. Quite unlike it’s fruitier and somewhat smoother Argentinian cousin - Malbec. 

The appellation states that red wines from Cahors (only red can be made under the AOC) should be a minimum of 70% Malbec and 30% Merlot of Tannat. Obviously, the wine changes dramatically depending on the winemakers choice of additive as both Merlot and Tannat bring totally different attributes to the party.

Wines from Cahors are called as “Black Wines” due to their deep dark purple colour - a tribute to the Malbec grape’s thick blue skins. 

Flavour profiles are, of course, black fruits with blueberries, violets, vanilla, licorice, coffee and spice which makes them perfect with produce of the region: Cassoulet, mushrooms, duck confit, blue cheese.

At one time Cahors wine was very popular and was THE wine to drink. Wines were sought after, much of it exported to the UK via Bordeaux.

Black wines far outshone the wines of Bordeaux (located to the north west) which were just starting to gather momentum. However, the power of Bordeaux and it’s politics was not to be under-estimated and in the 14th century the “Police des Vins” (yes, they actually had them) stopped “high country” wines being sold through Bordeaux until Bordelais wines sold first.


The result was devastating for Cahors wine production. Being such a small area, and with it’s wines unable to be sold through regular distribution channels, wine makers turned to other means to make ends meet and a decline in wine production.

The turbulence in Cahors didn’t stop there and at the end of the 19th century Phylloxera wiped out whatever vineyards were still operational. Stoic winemakers held strong though and replanted vineyards with US hybrid grapes that were able to grow. The climb back to the top was/is hard and there have been many hurdles to overcome.

One of the hurdles to overcome was a poor reputation among wine lovers due to the fact that constant quality was been an issue. To say that the wines were “rustic” and “robust” would be an understatement depending on which bottle you opened. Think mouth puckering, tannic dryness especially when young!

Things are-a-changing though with growers recognizing the need for new techniques and new approaches that make their wine more drinkable” while maintaining it’s “terroir” characteristics.

To say that Cahors resemble the Malbec’s of Argentina is a toughie as there are so many geographical and climatic differences that the two grape varieties offer different wines depending on origin. 

However Malbec growers from Argentina are pivotal in the re-growth of Malbec from Cahors and are working closely to assist in the re-growth of it’s reputation and quality.

In Cahors, the there is even a Malbec Lounge that only serves Cahors Malbec in an effort to give you an understanding of the region and it’s wines. Definitely worth a visit.

I’d encourage anyone that likes Malbec to give Cahors a try, they are still attractively priced and you might even be surprised at the results.

Below are a few of Cahors worth a try:

Chateau Bovila Malbec 2012 Cahors - from Majestic wine / UK

Jean-Luc Baldès Malbec du Clos Cahors - from Waitrose Cellar / UK

Château Lagrézette - direct from Château / France

Château Eugenie Tradition 2015 - Cahors Malbec Merlot - from BC Liqueur Stores Canada

Château du Cèdre Heritage Cahors - from Dan Murphy's Australia



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