Le Tour de France and Cahors
Stage 19 of the Tour de France 2022 takes place today (22 July), and the riders will cross the finish line in Cahors.
Now, while I could not go to Cahors to watch the Tour arrive in the spiritual French home of Malbec, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to open this wax-sealed bottle of Matayac Malbec.
About the appellation
Before I delve deeper into this bottle of wine, here’s a bit of information about the Cahors appellation.
Cahors is located in the South West wine-growing region in France. It’s about 160 km east of Bordeaux and approximately 100 km north of Toulouse. The appellation is home to roughly 4,200 hectares of vines, which grow near the Lot River.
White, red, and rosé wines are produced in the Cahors area, but only the red wines can be labelled AOC Cahors. The whites and rosés are released with IGP Côtes du Lot on the label. (Please see a glossary at the end of the blog for an explanation of the acronyms.)
Malbec is the most dominant grape variety in the red wines. Locally, this variety is also known as “Côt”, “Côt Noir” and “Auxerrois”. Both single varietal wines (100% Malbec) and blends are produced. At least 70% of a blend must be Malbec, with Merlot or Tannat making up the remaining percentage.
The delights of a Cahors Malbec
I picked up this bottle of 2020 Matayac AOC Cahors a few months ago. And as the temperature has finally dropped slightly, I thought I’d open it last night so I could sample it before I enjoy a glass tonight while watching the highlights of Stage 19.
As the recommended serving temperature is 16-18˚C, it also offers a touch of coolness – something I welcome when drinking red wines in summer.
This 100% Malbec wine is so dark; it’s almost black, but purple sparkles through it when it catches the light. Intense blackcurrant aromas rise from the glass, where they are joined by notes of blackberries and oak.
The powerful palate matches the intensity of the wine’s colour. The silky tannins are very present and are accompanied by prominent blackberry flavours with a dash of blackcurrant.
A medium-length oaky finish completes the wine. Given that the wine was aged in oak barrels, it’s unsurprising that oak features in its flavour profile.
I really enjoyed this 2020 Matayac Malbec, and I will certainly be buying it again. It was so flavourful, and its fruitiness satisfied my sweet tooth.
No AOC Cahors for Romain Bardet just yet
French cyclist Romain Bardet, who at the start of today lined up 8th in the General Classification of the Tour de France, holds a WSET Level 2 Award in Wines – the very same qualification I have – and is working towards his WSET Level 3.
When Romain has the chance, he likes visiting vineyards with fellow cyclist Clément Chevrier and their partners. Romain celebrated his second place in the 2016 edition of the Tour de France with a bottle of 1995 Château d’Yquem. I wonder what wine he has set aside to enjoy after he crosses the finish line in Paris on Sunday.
Hopefully, today’s route passes some vineyards as Romain has said he likes seeing them whizzing by while racing. Good luck to him and the rest of the cyclists as they battle it out over the final few days of this year's Tour de France!
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AOC = Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée – this is the equivalent to a Protected Designation of Origin. For a product, in this case, wine, to be labelled AOC in France, it has to be produced according to strict rules and standards.
IGP = Indication Géographique Protégée – this means Protected Geographical Indication in English. It indicates the wider region where the wines, in this case, come from. There are fewer rules to follow here when growing the grapes and making the wines than in AOCs. But that doesn't necessarily lower the quality of the wine.