Thursday, 16 September 2010

Day 46 - Cahors

After such a scorcher yesterday, it came as quite the surprise to discover it had tipped it down last night... Annoying, as one of the few things I did yesterday was to take the car to the carwash... well a little covered area with a high pressure washer... great fun, especially on a hot day!

Anyway, the day began swathed in fog and continued with drizzle which became heavier and heavier. On the drive to Cahors, I decided to stop off at
Puy-l’Évêque, a small mediaeval town looking down on the River Lot.
I wandered down to the Office de Tourisme, and next door was a little Maison du Vin. This little exhibition had been put together by one of the winemakers, who as I spoke with him explained that he only started making wine in the last 10 years after retiring as an architect; he took over from his father. However, he was so passionate about the wines of Cahors... in fact he had records of the date of the harvest back into the 1600s from the records kept in his family.
He also explained about the regulations for the Cahors appellation, which are that at least 70% must be the Auxerrois grape (Malbec to you and me!), the rest can be Merlot or up to 10% Tannat (as the name suggests, a very tannic grape!). Anyway, after walking me through the little exhibition with such passion and enthusiasm for his local wines, he invited me to taste some of them - all AOC Cahors, all red, another rule for the appellation in the little Cave.

  1. Vin Noir à L’ancienne 2009 - Something a little different to start... This is a 100% Malbec wine created to mirror a type made for the English in the 13th century. The wine is allowed to heat to 60 degrees during fermentation. It produced a wine that had a nose of blackcurrant and blackberry and tasted of the same flavours; not quite Ribena with a kick, as it wasn't sweet, but there was definitely that baked flavour.

  2. Domaine du Peyret 2008 - a nose of blackberry and plums, with blackcurrant and blackberry flavours. A young, fruity wine with some tannin.

  3. Clos de l'Eglise - Cuvée Prestige 2006 - A nose of blackberries, violets and raspberries and to taste, violets, blackberries, blackcurrants. A slightly astringent tannin, which may indicate the presence of Tannat.

  4. Domaine des Sangliers 2007 - 6 months in oak barrels gives this 100% Malbec a vaniila aroma over the blackberry scents. The flavours are blackberry, violets and wood... and tannins.

  5. Clos de l'Eglise - Révélation 2007 - Rather herbaceous aromas, a bit of the old wet forest with blueberries and wild strawberries. The flavours were blackcurrant and redcurrant... Fruity, but for me there was a slight under-ripe quality.

  6. Château La Reyne - L'Excellence 2007 - Barrel ageing gives this wine a smokey, woody nose, along with blackberry and cinnamon. Totaste, blackcurrant and a wee bit of tobacco. Like many of the wines before it, a long finish, but that finish is of the astringent tannins

  7. Château Gautool 2004 - A nose of cherries, blueberries and blackberries. The flavours on the palate are blackberry and a little herbaceous, but again with the astringent tannins.

  8. Château Famaey - Cuvée X 2004 - 2 years in oak barrels brings vanilla to the blueberry and blackberry nose. The flavours on the palate are redcurrant, blackcurrant, a little leather and smokiness.

You can tell by my descriptions that these wines have characteristic flavours, but for me the astringent tannins they display is not to my taste.
Anyway, back in the car and the rain still hadn't abated... which was a shame because the views over the Lot were wonderful. But I made my way to Cahors, the city, in time to discover a wholly vegetarian café... I think the waiter thought I was mad because I was so excited to have a choice of what to eat!

Anyway, I passed a statue of Léon Gambetta in Cahors, erected as this was his birthplace... It is absolutely guaranteed, be it a city, town or village in France, that there will be a Rue Gambetta - they love this guy, who was a politician... I only just discovered... I haven't figured out why, but take my word for it... there's always a Rue Gambetta!

I then made my way to the fortified Pont Valentré, the symbol of Cahors which crosses the Lot. (I should mention that the Lot flows in a horseshoe around Cahors.)
I then did a short circuit to the Cathédrale St-Étienne, another beautiful building, and more beautiful stained glass. I was also very taken with the angels standing on guard around the altar... They weren't cherubic, they were not to be messed with... They were angels I would like protecting me!

As I made my way back to the car, the heavens opened... again! And really didn't stop until I reached the mediaeval town of Cordes-sur-Ciel and my bed for the night. Another real shame as this area is renowned for its gorges and I have to say that even through the rain, the views were breathtaking... but no, I didn't risk getting soaked through just so you could have a snap. Sorry!

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