The Black Wine of Lot

It was the wine of choice at the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine with Henry II of England. Pope John XXII made it his sacramental wine as well as his every day table wine. Peter the Great drank it before all other wines. What am I talking about? Bordeaux, the land of Rothschilds  and Margaux? Burgundy, producer of liquid more valuable than silver? Or perhaps Champagne, the sparkling delight of the rich and famous everywhere? Great guesses, but wrong.

Call it Côt, or Côt Noir, or Auxerrois. You might be more familiar with the name Malbec. Whatever you choose to call it, you are talking about one of the oldest and most honored wines of history, from the Cahors region of France. For centuries, perhaps even millenia, the Black Wine of Lot, named for its deep color and the River Lot that runs through the region, was the pinnacle of fine wine.

Then came phylloxera, two World Wards, and finally a frost in 1956 that nearly wiped out the region.

Today Cahors is making a comeback, ironically fueled by the popularity of its progeny, Malbecs from Argentina. The wines can be fresh and fruity, and they can be deep, dark, and powerful.

And today, Cahors is the newest sponsor of Palate Press: The online wine magazine. We are pleased to join them in promoting this once leading, then lost, and now discovered anew grand wine region of France.