THE ADVOCATE 703
VOL. 77 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2019
By Michael Welsh, Q.C.*
“I wouldn’t give you the skin off a grape.”
— Tommy Udo (Played by Richard Widmark) in Kiss of Death (1947)
Film noir is a favourite genre of many “cinephiles” (or, as the French say,
“cinéastes”). The movies are classics, with titles that include The Third Man,
The Big Sleep, Double Indemnity, The Maltese Falcon, Touch of Evil, the abovementioned
Kiss of Death and, more recently, Chinatown and Blood Simple.
The term “film noir”, meaning “black cinema” or “dark cinema”, was coined
in 1946 by French film critic Nino Frank to describe a certain set of Hollywood
films that were saturated with a darkness and cynicism that had not
been seen before.
This article focuses on a similarly named genre of French wine that, classically,
is also saturated with a darkness (but not cynicism) not often seen
elsewhere. In France, it is known as Cahors wine, from the appellation
around that ancient city. The primary grape from which it is made is widely
known, not from its French version, but mainly from Argentina. It is Malbec.
Cahors is likely one of the largest relatively unknown wine regions in
France. It has well over a hundred châteaux producing inky black wine and
has been a staple of French wine production for centuries. My wife and I
were recently there for the wonderful wedding of our esteemed editor,
* Michael Welsh, Q.C., carries on a litigation and ADR practice in the South Okanagan and is a bencher. The views
expressed here are his own and not those of the Law Society.