The Scent of Black

Welcome to our video podcast: The Scent of Black – Video Show #91.

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In the Cahors region of France, black truffles are almost literally as valuable as gold in the culinary world. Prized for their glorious scent, black truffles are fungi that grow exclusively on the roots of oak trees. Found in late autumn and winter, the truffles cannot be seen since they grow under the ground. Pigs, or specially trained dogs have been used to search for these elusive truffles. About 20% of the French production comes from southwest France, which possesses the limestone soils and dry hot weather that truffles need to grow.

In the late 19th century, an epidemic of phylloxera destroyed many of the vineyards in southern France. Large tracts of land were set free for the cultivation of truffles. Thousands of truffle-producing trees were planted, and production reached the peak of hundreds of tonnes by the end of the 19th century. Wars during the 20th Century decimated the fields. After 1945, the production of truffles plummeted, and prices rose dramatically. In 1900, truffles were used by most French people, and on many occasions. Today, they are a rare delicacy reserved for the wealthy, or used on very special occasions.

Originally a common grape in Bordeaux, Malbec has lost popularity as one of the five varieties in the Bordeaux blends. Meanwhile, Malbec increased its status in the French region of Cahors, an area southeast of Bordeaux, where it creates distinctive wines that now require 70% of the variety.

GrapeRadio is proud to present a look at the Cahors region, as rightly famous for its black truffles as it is for its Malbec, a wine that exemplifies the scent of black.

23 Responses to “The Scent of Black”

  1. 1 Lejeune Philippe Dec 26th, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Congratulation for this great work. This video is a great balance of elegance, information, and fun. Makes me want to see more! It’s now the right time for black truffles…

  2. 2 Le Forty-Six Magazine Dec 27th, 2010 at 4:11 am

    Bravo ! Very instructive and really nice pictures… Good job !

  3. 3 John Despard Dec 27th, 2010 at 5:14 am

    Great video, sums up the area wonderfully. It’s difficult to describe to others the wonder of the area – this does!

  4. 4 Brian Crabtree Dec 27th, 2010 at 7:32 am

    Thank you for another wonderful and fascinating production. Don’t know if it is just my Internet connection, but the video and audio weren’t quite in sync. No matter, I still enjoyed it very mucy.
    Brian Crabtree
    Raymond MS

  5. 5 GrapeRadio Bunch Dec 27th, 2010 at 7:58 am

    Brian, try watching again, byt not under HDTV. The resolution is so high, that it eats up cpu cycles.


  6. 6 vintuition Dec 27th, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Congratulations, to all those involved, on this spell-binding production. Seeing Cahors – the land, the wines, the truffles – through the lens of terroir makes it even more colorful, even more complex/meaningful, even more (aesthetically) appealing/sensual/delicious. Doing so, making the viewers see Cahors through the lens of terroir in The Scent of Black, means helping them appreciate and better understand the complex interplay and partner-ship existing between man, plant(s) and nature/environment in bringing something unique into the world and our daily life, and teaches one to match the sheer (hedonistic) pleasure of eating/drinking with due profound respect for where our food and wine come from.

  7. 7 Arnaud Jeremy Dec 28th, 2010 at 1:47 am

    Bravo Jay ! It’s so beautiful, so emotional! You catch the Cahors Malbec soul …

  8. 8 Roland Dec 31st, 2010 at 5:02 am

    Thank you guys.I think it’s one of your best video’s ever along with the stewards of the land.I posted it on FB and to all my friends.It reminds me as a sommelier myself why I love the food and wine trade so much.We cannot do without food and food is in my view one of the wonders of the world.Together with wine makes it a deeply emotional experience.Just to all those people who don’t believe again in terrior,why are the wines black because of the black truffles on the land.It’s nature speaking.Thank you again guys for a beautiful video.Happy new year to all at and may you all have a grape new year.



  9. 9 Brian Crabtree Jan 2nd, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    Since you are posting your videos at vimeo now, are they no longer downloaded automatically with an iTunes subscription?

  10. 10 GrapeRadio Bunch Jan 3rd, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    The show has been added to the iTunes feed. Thanks for the heads up!


  11. 11 Marco Giovanetti Jan 5th, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Second time in this site,

    Watched the video. It was really beautiful. Made almost cry.Very nostalgic. It makes want to go my cellar and drink my chateau lazagarette with truffle pasta

    Keep it up with the good work!!!

  12. 12 Thom Jan 19th, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    How do I download the file? I save these for watching on my Droid when I travel.



  13. 13 Julian Faulkner Feb 2nd, 2011 at 11:44 am

    First time on the site, this video was recommended to me and I find it a lot better than most wine videos out there. Although it is marketing driven, I don’t mind because I feel Cahors deserves some more limelight.

  14. 14 Alexander Goldfisher Feb 10th, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    Stunning video that shed light on an area I was not too familiar with. I am loving your site and telling everyone about the quality of your work. Astonishing stuff and I eagerly await the next production.



  15. 15 craig underhill May 10th, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    I love this video. Brilliantly produced. The passion of the producers/inhabitants of this fabulous region shines through!

  16. 16 phillipmiller Oct 16th, 2012 at 6:58 am

    To all the GrapeRadio crew, congratulations and thank you, not only for the Scent of Black, but all your years of so many excellent, interesting, and educational productions. I know it is a labor of love for you, but I know it also requires tremendous effort and time.

  1. 1 Blackisphere » Blog Archive » Cahors, Malbec & Truffle, « The scent of black » by Jay Selman & Mark Ryan of Grape Radio pingback on Dec 28th, 2010 at 11:07 am
  2. 2 Blackisphere » Blog Archive » « I’m sure you’ll like this video from the GrapeRadio site, on the Cahors region in France, “as rightly famous for its black truffles as it is for its Malbec, a wine that exemplifies the scent of pingback on Jan 30th, 2011 at 10:39 am
  3. 3 Lot Cycling Holidays pingback on May 8th, 2011 at 12:35 pm
  4. 4 Blackisphere » Blog Archive » Prix de la meilleure vidéo décerné à « The Scent of Black » par The James Beard Foundation (New York) pingback on May 9th, 2011 at 7:05 am
  5. 5 Truffles and wine | Madame Truffles pingback on May 11th, 2011 at 8:46 pm
  6. 6 The Scent of Black | Regional Food TV pingback on Mar 22nd, 2012 at 10:21 pm
  7. 7 The scent of black -Truffles and Malbec | Regional pingback on Sep 19th, 2012 at 3:34 pm

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