Cahors is a red wine from grapes grown in or around the town of Cahors, France. Cahors is an Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) which forms part of the South West France wine region. The dominant grape variety in AOC Cahors wines is Malbec, which must make up a minimum of 70% of the wine, and which is known locally as "Côt", "Côt Noir" or "Auxerrois". It is supplemented by up to 30% Merlot and Tannat. As a reflection of the character of the Malbec variety, Cahors wine can be rather tannic when young, and benefit from aging. Generally, the style of Cahors wine is often similar to robust versions of Bordeaux wine.
There are of Cahors vineyards.
The designation AOC Cahors may only be used for red wines. There is also some white and rosé wine produced in the same area, and it is sold under the designation Vin de Pays du Lot instead.
During the Middle Ages, Cahors wine was called "the black wine of Lot". Clément Marot sung the virtues of this "liquor of fire". It was on the tables at the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine with Henry II of England. Pope John XXII, born at Cahors, made it his table and sacramental wine. Francis I of France appreciated it to the point of delegating to the Cahorsin vintners the task of creating the vineyard of Fontainebleau. Jean-Baptiste Colbert did not hesitate to deem it superior to Bordeaux. The Russian Emperor Peter I of Russia drank Cahors (кагор) and the Russian Orthodox Church adopted it as the sacramental wine. Since the wine's introduction to the court of England, Cahors wine even became a formidable competitor to claret, as Bordeaux is known. The Bordelais vintners attempted to prevent the commerce before All Saints Day to stop its production; Louis XVI resolved the conflict by providing mediation between the vintners.
The history of the wine is also tied to that of the Lot River. Since its introduction by the Romans, its trade passes by this dangerous yet navigable route. In the 18th century, around 10,000 barrels of wine passed through Bordeaux to leave thence for the north of Europe, the Antilles and the Americas.
Similar to many other winemaking regions, Cahors was hit bad by The Great French Wine Blight in the late 19th century, when the vines were attacked in the phylloxera epidemic. In the case of Cahors, this happened in 1883-1885.
In February 1956, Cahors was hit by frosts which wiped out almost all the vineyards of the region, which thus needed to be replanted en masse. In this replanting, Malbec became more dominant than it had been before. Cahors was awarded AOC status in 1971.