About Cahors and Malbec
Cahors, one of the oldest wine in Europe
The conquests of the Roman Empire brought grape vines to the Quercy region some 2,000 years ago. Within no time, the wines of the region were recognised for their quality, thereby causing detriment to the production from Italy. In the year 92 AD, the Emperor ordered that all the vines in Cahors be pulled out. He was disobeyed…
The marriage in 1152, between Alienor of Aquitaine and Henri Plantagenet, the future king of England, encouraged the development of winegrowing in Southwest France, especially in Cahors. The production of “The Black Wine of Cahors”, extremely appreciated by the British, grew considerably during this period under the protection of Henry III of England.
Moreover, during their stopover at Rocamadour, the pilgrims of Saint James of Compostela found the wine of Cahors to their liking, and thereby contributed to its good reputation throughout France and elsewhere. Cahors wine sales reached their apogee in 1310 with a production of 850,000 hl, representing 50% of exports leaving from the port of Bordeaux.
Rivalry with Bordeaux
The One Hundred Years War put an end to a long period of prosperity. However Cahors remained a renowned wine, appreciated by the likes of François I of France, who asked for a vine with the “Cahors” grape variety to be planted at Fontainebleau, and Peter the Great of Russia who imposed it upon the Orthodox Church. The Dutch also preferred strong and dark beverages, like Cahors, their ideal wine.
Eclipse and Renaissance
The vineyard represented some 58,000 ha in 1866. In 1865, the phylloxera destroyed the vineyard but despite this disaster, the wine sector was kept in place. But the hybrids used only produced pale copies of the original wines. In 1947 some vintners decided to restore the Malbec variety, the grape originally used to produce Cahors.
The frost of 1956 once again ruined many winegrowers from the area. But none of them despaired and all got quickly back to work. The Cahors Wine Brotherhood was created in 1964. It was in 1971 that Cahors, representing a mere 440 ha, was promoted to the distinction of appellation d’origine contrôlée. At present, some 4,500 ha can produce AOC Cahors.