I’m delighted to see this on the shelves. We don’t see enough Cahors in the UK. It has a reputation for being a difficult wine and I understand why, but Cahors isn’t the wine it once was – and we can all be grateful for that.
Back in the day when I first started drinking the wines in situ, they were inky, chewy, if not rasping, and they took an age to become drinkable. Some never did, but I’d fallen in love with this remote and beautiful pocket of southwest France and I determinedly drank its red wines. Not for nothing were they known as the black wines of Cahors.
They’re not like that now. Taste this Malbec du Clos from Jean-Luc Baldès (of renowned Clos Triguedina Cahors): dark, rich blackberry and plum fruit, floral notes, dried herbs and earthy spice around a backbone clad in velvet and a wave of soft mineral freshness. Authentic yet approachable.
The grape variety of Cahors hasn’t changed. Only the name has: 40 years ago it was called Auxerrois locally, not even Cot, its primary name. Today, it goes by the moniker that Argentina has made famous, Malbec.
The geology hasn’t changed either, of course – the limestone plateaus and gravelly terraces rising up from the meandering river Lot. The real change has been in the generations and their winemaking, plus a bit of climate change.
Among other things, fewer growers today see the need to blend in softening Merlot (up to 30% is allowed), which was widespread in the 1990s and 2000s. Malbec du Clos is 100% Malbec and from mature, 20-year-old vines.
Now to food pairing: you can certainly go the ‘when in Rome…’ route with regional specialities such as confit de canard, lamb (which is reared around Cahors on the limestone causses), cassoulet, magret de canard, and hard and semi-hard sheep’s cheeses.
But it's much more versatile than old-style tannic Cahors, so you can comfortably pair it with barbecued veg, mushroom dishes (dark rather than creamy), spicy, herby pulse and grain dishes, steak, steak and kidney pie, casseroles of rabbit, pork or beef with red wine and prunes, seared pigeon breasts, pork belly, merguez and other meaty sausages, and hard cheeses. 14%. Empty bottle weight: 450g.
Jean-Luc Baldès Malbec du Clos 2020, Cahors, France
£8.49 until 4 July, then £10.99, Waitrose