The limestone soil and sunny slopes are very suitable for growing vines. Coteaux du Quercy (VDQS) and Cahors (AOC) wines are made here.
The main grape variety in the Cahors vineyards is malbec, with the addition of tannat and merlot grapes. These wines have received the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin (AOC)) certification and are grown partly in the valley of the Lot and on the plateaux.
The Coteaux du Quercy wines are produced exclusively in the Quercy Blanc. The basic grape variety is cabernet franc, which winemakers blend with cot, malbec, merlot, tannat and sometimes gamay. These are “supple and full-bodied” red wines with delicate aromas of fruit and a hint of spice. The rosés are fruity.
The Quercy melon has its official label of quality: the Certificate of Product Compliance (CCP). The soil and sunshine on the Quercy hillsides give it a firm and juicy texture, a subtle aroma and delicate sweet flavours. Eaten as an aperitif, an hors d’oeuvre or dessert, this is a fruit that will never cease to surprise you…
Ducks, reared for their meat on many farms, is much appreciated (duck breast, confit, neck…) and of course for the delicious foie gras prepared in a variety of different ways. These duck farms produce a range of products according to their own recipes which can be bought in jars or tins. Some places offer holiday breaks with a duck theme, starting with an introduction to its preparation and the different ways it can be used.
Black truffles have found, in the Lot, the three main criteria for their development: the presence of truffle trees (oak, hazelnut), a limestone soil and a Mediterranean climate. This magic mushroom which delicately flavours omelettes, meat and fish, is eaten in restaurants, tables d’hôtes but also at home. Its season stretches from December to March. Even if the largest truffles market in the south of the Lot is at Lalbenque, there are also some producers at the Sunday morning market in Montcuq.
On the hard limestone soil, goats feel at home. A delicious white cheese, the cabécou, is produced from their milk, and has obtained the label «AOC Rocamadour». It may be eaten as an aperitif, in a salad, with nuts, truffles or quite simply on its own!
The Quercy producers open the doors of their farms to visitors inviting them to follow the production and taste the cheese; whereas the little round cheeses line up attractively on market stalls.
Sheltering behind the low stone walls of the Quercy are large flocks of a particular sheep with amusing “black spectacles” around their eyes. Their meat is so well-known and respected that it has received a label rouge. Its quality is not just down to the race but also to the way it is raised: fed mostly on its mother’s milk with a supplement based on cereals. lts delicious meat melts in the mouth.
Not all grapes are grown for winemaking. Some hillsides in the south of the Quercy Blanc are covered in vines where the fruit, the chasselas, is an exceptional delicacy. Awarded the label AOC, the Moissac chasselas is a very delicious, sweet golden grape. Its cultivation results from knowledge going back generations and involves meticulous manual work to preserve the fragility and appearance of the grape. When the bunches of grapes do not meet the required appearance, they are pressed into a sweet fruit juice which has recognised health benefits.
The most expensive spice in the world comes from Iran, Morocco and… from the Lot! The crusaders brought it back from the Holy Land in the XIth century. Until the XVIIIth century it enjoyed popularity before falling into oblivion. Today, 60 producers grow saffron on 3 hectares of land. If you see fields of mauve bulbs in the Lot valley in October, it will be saffron. The delicate harvest is done by hand. The picking is followed by the “émondage”, a process which consists of separating the pistil from the flower, the pistil is then dried.
Awaiting a label rouge, restaurateurs are delighted to use this spice which gives a touch of exoticism to their dishes.
If there is a specific Quercy dessert it is pastis where the secrets of its traditional preparation are handed down from mother to daughter. Several meticulous procedures are involved to give this dessert its particular appearance. Eating it is a real pleasure for the taste buds.