Hannah, one of our wine captains, had the opportunity to represent City Winery on a week-long trip to Cahors, France for ‘Cahors Malbec Days’! Read all about her incredible trip below!
My name is Hannah Grossman. I have been at City Winery since its opening, and works as a wine captain, server, and event lead. On behalf of the European Union, the UIVC (Union Interprofessionnelle du Vin de Cahors), and a representative of the City Winery wine captain team, I recently spent a week in Cahors, France for “Cahors Malbec Days.”
Cahors is in the Southwest part of France, just north of the Languedoc. This is home of the Malbec grape. Many other countries and regions have made a (more famous) name for Malbec, helping it become quite the trend in the wine world. Some of these places include Argentina, Bordeaux, the Loire Valley, Chile, Australia, South Africa, and the United States, and more. While the Malbec grape is quite adaptable, its roots lie here in Cahors.
Cahors is about 21,000 hectares in total, and only 4,000 hectares is being used for vinification purposes, 90% of which is Malbec. It is red wine production only here, apart from some winemaking experimentation with other grapes. But the the AOC, France’s wine law, at least 70% of a wine must be Malbec and only Merlot and Tannat are permitted within a blend. Merlot will soften the wine and Tannat will mature the blends to be palatable at a younger age.
So as you can imagine, I drank red wine for 5 days straight. They call Malbec the “black grape,” so I dubbed our group the “black teeth.”
With rich soils ranging from alluvial and gravel to clay and limestone, Malbec from Cahors has a rustic, terrior-driven quality. The region is full of floral notes itself with so many kinds of flowers from honeysuckle to lavender to roses. A Cahors Malbec profile is typical of black currants, black cherry, violets, licorice, with remnants of truffles, mint and oak. They are full-bodied with firm fruity tannins and high acidity.
Getting the opportunity to go on an enrichment trip gives you something that the books and the bottles alone can’t give you. I was fully immersed within the region, where I heard firsthand from the winemakers what it takes for success, what soils and climates they’re working with, the equipment and style in which they each individually produce what has given Cahors its name. There is no better way to learn than to go to the site itself. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of one place’s culture, getting to feel as one with the wine’s source of identity.
We were given a structured itinerary for every day. I would wake up early and have a traditional countryside breakfast of fresh breads, a soft-boiled egg, fresh orange juice, and good strong coffee. From there we were off to a vineyard that would host a seminar to begin the morning. History and terrior were major foci throughout the trip. After a daily tasting, we chose two vineyards to see and learn about each day. Before embarking throughout Cahors’ countryside, we had a lunch typically featuring duck in some preparation from foie gras to confit to terrine. This region is especially known for their game products, truffes, and mustards, and I can back them up on that one! To get from vineyard to vineyard, the program sponsored vintage cars from about the 1930-1960s to drive us around! After a long afternoon outside, we would get ready for a dinner, again, hosted by a chateau or vineyard. We truly got the 360 degree Cahors experience.