A Brief History of Cahors
Since Roman times, Cahors was a thriving city and wine producer, achieving recognition and far-reaching distribution of their ‘black wines’ across Europe and Russia. By the Middle Ages it was the largest wine producing region in France, exceeding Bordeaux. However, starting in 1241 the economy was gradually restricted by major events such as Bordeaux limiting year round access to its ports and increasing taxes, the French Revolution and World War I and II. In 1876, Cahors was further crippled by a series of natural disasters which ultimately led to the decline of Cahors ability to continue to prosper as a leading producer of wine.
1855 Malbec was the main grape variety (about 50%) in the blend of the Bordeaux Grand Cru Classé alongside Cabernet Franc and Merlot.
1876 Phylloxera discovered, initiating the decline of vineyards.
1878 Mildew arrives and causes further deterioration of the vineyards.
1885 Black Rot appears as yet another natural disaster in the vineyards; the first American rootstock introduced fails to survive in the limestone soils; Cahors loses over 47,000ha of vineyards, yet continues to rapidly replant and in a desperate attempt to preserve the economy, begins blending in non-grape wines to maintain production volumes in lieu of focusing on quality.
1886 Cahors has 58,800ha planted; by 1880 reaches it golden age with 80,000ha planted; continues to plant even as new vineyards die several years after being planted.
1887 Germain Vigouroux, fourth son of Jean Vigouroux, farmer and winemaker, established a wine distribution business, focusing on selling wines to local restaurants.
1920’s Hybrid varieties (Seyve-Villard grapes) are introduced, saving local viticulture; however, leads to a shift in mass production of wines and the continued downturn in quality
1956 A major frost wipes out most vineyards.
1958 Vineyards are replanted with new Phyloxerra resistant rootstocks (“Riparia x Berlandieri 420-A” and “SO4”), focusing on Malbec, Merlot and Tannat.
1971 The Cahors AOC is created, designating it a ‘red wine only’ region, requiring all wines to be at least 70% Malbec; at this time only 440ha of vines remain, including 60ha replanted by Georges Vigouroux.
1980’s Cahors begins to rebuild its wine production, utilizing mass production philosophies for bulk wine.
today Cahors is considered to be a region with young vineyards and an old story, encompassing 21,700ha with only a modest 4,300ha planted, a mere 5% of its height of plantings in 1880.
• 10,625 acres are planted
• 45 miles long x 15 miles wide (1/30 of Mendoza area)
• Creation date of the AOC: 1971
• Only red wines
• 70% minimum of Malbec (the other varieties accepted are: Tannat & Merlot)
• 2.6 tons / acre maximum yield authorized