Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Three Rivers of France

...And the red wines of Gaillac. I love the mention of Fronton and the Knights Hospitaller. To quote:
Downstream from Gaillac, as the Tarn heads toward the Atlantic, it approaches the Garonne just north of Toulouse, forming a triangle of land into which are squeezed the terraced vineyards of Fronton and Villaudric. Fronton’s roots are as ancient as Gaillac’s, and the area boasts a close connection with the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, now known as the Knights of Malta, the famous order of knights that dominated much of the region during the Crusades. Local lore has it that the principal grape of the Fronton appellation, known as négrette for its dusky skin, originated in the order’s domains in Cyprus. It’s a romantic story that the locals would love to perpetuate, but researchers now believe the grape is of local origin and is closely related to the tannat grape of Madiran and the auxerrois of Cahors. But whatever the truth, the négrette is almost unique to the vineyards of Fronton, and the wine it produces is a great favorite with the residents of Toulouse, who have been drinking it for centuries. These days, the négrette is likely to be blended with cabernet sauvignon, syrah or auxerrois to give the wine balance and a certain je ne sais quoi which, in the right hands, can make Fronton wines among the most elegant in the southwest. No white wines are produced in Fronton, but now there is a subtle rosé that accounts for around a fifth of Fronton’s output. (Read entire article.)

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