A little history…
The wines of
Cahors are officially mentioned for the first time in the
year 92 AD when Emperor Domitian, concerned about their
success, orders the pulling-out of all the vineyards of the
In the 3rd Century, a new edict of Emperor
Probus authorises the replantation of vines in the Quercy
In the 5th Century, the Franks, attracted
by the vineyards of Gaul, favour their extension and encourage
new plantations. The Franks consider vines as sacred plants.
In the 7th Century, Saint Didier, bishop
of Cahors, gives a new impulse to the region and restores
its prestige by revealing the high quality of its terroir
In 1152, the marriage of Aliénor
of Aquitaine with Henri II Plantagenet, King of England,
opens a new era of economic expansion and a new golden age
for the wines of the Quercy. From then on, the wines are
exported to England where they are known as the “ black
wines of Cahors ”. The first quotations of these
wines date back to 1225.
King François I summons a winegrower
from the Quercy region to Fontainebleau, to plant a royal
A favourite of the Russian Tsar Peter
the Great, the wine of Cahors becomes highly prized as an
altar wine; the Russian Orthodox priests particularly like
the fortified and spicy version of the product known as "rogomme”. A grape
varietal is named after the wine of Cahors as well as a Crimea
wine called Kagorskoje vino.
In 1531, the enforcement of a local
regulation helps to improve the quality of the wine: the
Consuls of Cahors appoint expert winegrowers to control the
quality of the vines prior to their plantation in the region.
Transported by barges and the local “gabarres” down
the Lot and Garonne Rivers, the wine of Cahors poses itself
as a serious competitor for its lighter Bordeaux counterpart
called “claret”. It is often used to fortify
and enhance the colour of the latter.
In the 19th Century, the
local vineyard extended over some 40,000 ha and nearly 75%
of its production was exported. In 1860, the only district
boasted 5,471 ha of vines – that is as much as the
whole appellation today. However, two factors posed a threat
to the local viticulture: the competition with the wines
produced in the south of France, and the disastrous phylloxera
epidemic that would destroy almost all the vineyards in Europe.
The Quercy region was no exception, and was devastated and
ruined. The black wine of Cahors progressively disappeared,
surviving only as a legend.
Much later, after a number of unsuccessful
experiences with hybrid varietals, the vineyard was at last
reconstructed, thanks to the local hybrid « auxerrois-rupestris » (Malbec
In the 1960s, some dedicated winegrowers replanted
the famous Malbec, which triggered the renaissance of the
wine of Cahors.
Some additional information:
– 1929, creation of the Syndicat de défense
de l’appellation d’origine Cahors (Union for the defence of the
Cahors appellation origin)
–1971, official recognition of the Cahors appellation of origin
–Today, the wine of Cahors has recovered its character, quality and reputation,
despite the reduced size of its vineyard (5,000 ha) and the small volume of its