I received a lovely email from John Despard a good while back. It was about his new venture, offering cycle-wine tours around in France.

As well as successfully running cycling tours in the Lot and Dordogne areas of southwest France, Lot Cycling Holidays have recently introduced wine tours of the up and coming AOC Cahors vineyards.

The cycling tours already included visits to this wine growing area and its chateaux but due to popular demand, there is now also a dedicated wine tour holiday, where transport is by air-conditioned minibus rather than bicycle.

Drinking and cycling would have been risky, no doubt.

Why Cahors?

Why Cahors wine tours? The Cahors wine region is where the Malbec grape originates from though you’d be forgiven for thinking Argentina. In fact, it was introduced to Argentina by French agricultural engineer Michel Pouget in 1868.

After some years in the wilderness, Malbec from Cahors is experiencing a revival.

The region was hit by a severe frost in 1956 when it killed off 75% of the vines. The vineyards were laboriously re-established and it was only in 1971 Cahors was awarded its AOC status.

Since then there has been more investment and a drive to increase the quality of the wine. A recent example is software entrepreneur, Philippe Lejeune recently purchasing Chateau Chambert.  He has employed renowned consultant oenologist Stephane Derenoncourt, who also advises for prestigious vineyards in Bordeaux, and the USA, to perfect his biodynamically produced wines.

Jamie Oliver has recently been filming at this chateau for his forthcoming French cookery programme.

International Malbec Days

If you are interested in discovering and comparing the original Malbec ‘black wine’ with the Argentinian variety, Lot Cycling Holidays are running one of their wine tours to coincide with the third “International Malbec Days” which will take place from May 21st-23rd, 2010 in Cahors.

This event is an annual celebration of Malbec wines by both the French and Argentinian growers.

What’s involved?

All Lot Cycling Holidays wine tours are 5 day/4 night breaks and are fully guided and escorted with accommodation and all meals included in the price. Tours will run in April, May, June and September 2010.

For more details visit the website, www.winetoursfrance.net