The ‘black wine’ of Cahors


Historical accidents often account for fame – or lack of it. I recall being told on visiting Cahors a couple of years ago that if the wine producers of Cahors in early times hadn’t been forced to barge their barrels down the River Lot to the nearest sea port, which happened to be Bordeaux, their wines might have been much more famous. And red Bordeaux, perhaps less. 

Cahors’ ‘black wine’, made from malbec, was known in the Middle Ages, long before Bordeaux’s wine industry developed. Later, the shippers of Bordeaux boosted their own weak vintages with sturdy Cahors, at the same time suppressing the reputation of Cahors wine while promoting Bordeaux.

There are many parallels with, for example, the early development of railways. When railways provided new freight corridors to the interior, they brought prosperity to some towns, at the expense of others. The modern-day parallel may be car expressways bypassing small rural towns, whose commercial centres then wither and die.

A beautiful bottle of Cahors drunk recently got me on this track. It was a Chateau du Cedre ‘Le Cedre’ Cahors 2009 (tasting). This classy wine is a deeply coloured, solidly structured, clean and impeccably made malbec. Profound and modern, it has long-term aging potential. It proudly cocks a snoot at Bordeaux. 

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