Lovin' the Loire

Fraternal twins: Cahor’s Malbec and the Côt of Amboise

Two cities cannot be twinned within the same country, but the Loire Valley town of Amboise and Cahors in southwestern France have become joined at the hip thanks to their shared adventures with a historic grape variety known as Malbec in Cahors and Côt in the Tours region. Cahors has 45 localities growing Côt on a total of 4,500 hectares, while Amboise is starting out with 10 localities that have planted no more than 150 hectares. In June the variety won the status of Dénomination Géographique Complémentaire, the first step to becoming an AOC, expected in 2022.

“We are looking for value added through a minority variety,” Cahors Mayor Jean-Marc Vayssouze-Faure told a seminar in Amboise, the heart of Côt country.

Departing from the world of winegrowing to make his point, he said that agri-giant Monsanto has imposed a single variety of rice on major swathes of growers around the world, essentially wiping out countless varieties that were once cultivated. His counterpart in Amboise, Christian Guyon, echoed the warning, saying: “It’s dangerous to try to conform to the globalization of taste.” Citing the example of the British and US markets that favor oak flavors in French wines, he said: “Let’s not pour ourselves into this mold.”

Vintners from the two wine centres got together with experts including historians, a leading sommelier and a wine geologist to coalesce around Amboise’s plan to win AOC status for its Côt wines.

Pomp and ceremony

With great pomp and ceremony, Amboise’s wine brotherhood, the Commanderie des Grands Vins d’Amboise–with members of Cahors’ brotherhood, the Confrérie des Vins de Cahors, joining in — inducted new members including Latvian sommelier Raimonds Tomsons, who came in seventh at the 2017 world tasters championship in Argentina. The ceremony was followed by a sumptuous gastronomic dinner at the Chateau d’Amboise, with course after course accompanied by one glass each of a Cahors and an Amboise vintage of Côt.

Vintners and journalists visited two vineyards with geologist Françoise Vannier, who had ditches dug to expose the topsoil and underlying earth contributing to the unique qualities of each wine.

Lovin’ Leonardo with Raimonds Thomas at the gala Chateau d’Amboise dinner