Certified Organic (2012)
Variety: 95% Malbec, 5% Merlot
Country, Region: France, South West France
Made from a blend of 95% Malbec and 5% Merlot, including fruit grown by local producers that Pascal consults to. About 70% is lighter and finer material from the limestone plateau (the causses) and 30% richer and denser fruit from the iron-rich gravelly terraces of the Lot River valley. The vines average 25-30 years and about 85% of the fruit is currently certified organic, with one grower at year 2 in conversion.
Fermented for a total of 20 days, with regular punch-downs for the first 3 or 4 days only. Malolactic conversion is carried out in tank, then the wine is matured for 18 months in 90% concrete tanks, with 10% aged in 2 year-old barrels.
'When we first started working with lees a decade or more ago we had typically 50mm or more of lees and we would get quite a bit of reduction. Today with healthier fruit from organics, we start with less than 30mm of lees, but after 18-24 months we have only 1mm of lees remaining and no reduction at all. Amazingly, the lees have been assimilated back into the wine.' Pascal Verhaeghe, November 2017.
Château du Cèdre is widely regarded as the leading estate in Cahors. Brothers Pascal and Jean-Marc Verhaeghe, both qualified oenologists, can trace its history back to their grandfather Léon who left his native Flanders to settle in south-west France in the early 1900s. In due course Léon’s son Charles and his wife Marie-Thérèse started a mixed farm in 1958 and began planting one hectare of vines in three different plots every year.
Today, Château du Cèdre comprises 27ha of vineyards planted at 4000-5500 vines per hectare on some of the most prized terroirs in Cahors, most notably the famous troisième terrasses. In keeping with the long history of Cahors, 90% of the vineyard is planted to Malbec (known locally as both Cot and Auxerrois), with 5% Merlot (now known to be a half-sibling of Malbec) and 5% Tannat. There is also 1ha of Viognier and a little of the Bordeaux whites, Sémillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc.
After a disastrous hail storm in 1995, the brothers decided to re-evaluate their mode of operation in the vineyard, with a goal of bringing to an end the long term use of synthetic chemicals that had plagued the entire world of wine for 50 years (and had directly contributed to the untimely death of the brothers’ father Charles). By 2002 they had eliminated all chemicals from the estate and by 2012 Château du Cèdre was certified organic.