Cahors Malbec, So-called “Black Wine,” is Being Rediscovered

Sonoma-based vintner and wine consultant Paul Hobbs had success in Argentina in the 1990s with Malbec and decided to try his hand at the grape variety in its birthplace of Cahors in southwest France. It was 2009 and Hobbs was surprised by what he saw there. Whereas Cahors suffered from a reputation as too cold and too wet to produce good Malbec, he found this a myth. "The region is warmer and drier than Bordeaux," Hobbs says today.

He saw problems, though, in an insular culture in Cahors that boasted of mouth-blasting tannins, didn't prioritize sanitation in the cellars and had fallen behind in technology and viticulture. "It was like Rip Van Winkle. The place went to sleep for awhile, but eventually it woke up. Now the winemaking is up to world standards."

There is a new dynamism in Cahors, and it springs from a convergence of developments: recognition and appreciation of the Malbec grape in overseas markets, thanks to Argentina's success, a smaller market among the French as they consume less wine than their parents, and a younger generation of winemakers and proprietors making their marks with modern methods. 

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January, 2019