Saturday, September 15, 2018


The title is a riff on the old nursery rhyme Round and Round the Garden which ends with "One step, two step, three step, bear!". Definitely unrelated to Cahors or any other wine, really. But it was on my mind and so here we are.

"France vs. Argentina" is what this blog post *should* be titled because that's the gist of malbec.

As usual, we can thank the Romans for planting grape vines literally everywhere in the Middle Ages including present day southwest France. Malbec, the intense grape that yields wine so opaque that it has earned the nickname of Black Wine, was prolific in the area around the river Lot, that is now Cahors. But because of shipping regulations that favoured Bordeaux wines, malbec never enjoyed the fame and glory that Bordeaux did even back then. The phylloxera blight in the late 19th century that wiped out nearly all of the Cahors malbec vines certainly did not help things.

While Cahors - and much of France - was dealing with that, malbec vines brought to Argentina in the mid-1800s, were thriving. And have continued to thrive to the extent that for wine, Argentina has become synonymous  with malbec, and French malbec isn't at the forefront of most malbec enthusiasts. But that is changing as more and more vintners are making wine in Cahors and making excellent cool climate malbec from grapes grown in limestone soil, quite different from the fruity ripe malbecs from Argentina.

It can take years to find limestone soil in Argentina, but it takes a few minutes in Cahors. Especially around the terraces above the river Lot, which have a thin gravel and topsoil layer with solid limestone underneath. This soil combined with the cooler climate of Cahors results in tannic wine with a delicious savoury streak. Wine that's distinctly different from the Argentine malbecs which are more supple, fruit-forward, and overall less nuanced than Cahors malbecs. 

This month with the French #winophiles we were tasting Cahors wines, and we had...

87% malbec, 13% merlot

Soil: limestone base, gravel topsoil, second terrace above the river Lot

Colour: Deep purple, almost opaque
Nose: Savoury, peppery, some violet, earth

Taste: Smoky, blackerries, pepper, graphite, and leather. Balanced tannins, very delicious everyday wine!

Pairing: We had this with fromage fort and figs. The fromage fort had a mix of several cheeses including blue cheese and quark. It made an excellent match for the savoury wine!

Price: $13

85% malbec, balance merlot and tannat

Soil: limestone base, gravel topsoil, second and third terraces above the river Lot

Colour: Deep purple, almost opaque
Nose: Blackberries, some violet, earth

Taste: Blackberries, pepper, and dusty tannins. Overall more fruit forward and jammy than the Lagrézette, which we preferred over this wine.

Pairing: We had this with broiled bread, fromage fort and green olive tapenade. Terrific match for this wine!

Price: $12

See what the rest of the #winophiles are saying about Cahors..


  1. Fromage fort is a favorite here,too! I love how affordable these wines are. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow, you got some great deals on those wines! Lagrézette is a big favorite of mine -- they make some really delicious stuff. And your pairings sound absolutely delightful!

    1. Thank you, fromage fort was delish with the wines, and agreed, Lagrézette wines are splendid! The effort and care in restoring the chateau and winemaking really shows.

  3. I never even knew French Malbec was a thing until this theme.

    1. I hope you liked it! I'm not into Argentine malbec but I do love the cooler climate malbec from Cahors.

  4. I loved your pairings, especially the figs. I think they'd be a great Malbec match.

    1. Thanks, yes we loved the pairings... the little bit of blue cheese in the fromage fort and the figs were lovely with the tannic malbec. No Argentine fruit bombs here!

  5. I am going to be looking for some Lagrézette. The great stories around this Château and the reviews on the wines, make me want to taste the wine and also visit! I will admit to having to look up "frommage fort". "cheese what?" my brain was saying. How have I not had this in my life? I see a new go to for pairings! Thank you for the introduction. I feel enlightened!

  6. I love your pairings -- looks like a great Saturday night wine treat for us!