2017 Chateau Plaisance Fronton Rouge
Region: Fronton < France
Grapes: 68% Negrette, 24% Syrah, 8% Cabernet Franc
Vineyard/Cellar stats: Organic + biodynamic since 2005 (certified 2011); 60-year old vines on gravelly, silty soils with alluvial topsoil; vinified and aged separately in stainless steel tanks before blending and aging for 18 months in concrete tanks; bottled unfined/unfiltered with minimal So2; 12.5% ABV
Winemaker: Marc Penavayre
The Fronton AOP on the eastern border of southwestern France, is a pretty obscure wine region, lacking the idyllic, perfectly manicured vineyard sites and awe-inspiring chateaux. But it boasts some pretty legit historical cred -- vineyards were originally planted around the time of the first millennium, when the Crusades arrived in Southern France and the Knights of Sant Jean de Jerusalem settled down!
Château Plaisance is currently in the hands of Marc Penavayre, who expanded his father's property after returning home in 1991. The vineyards, organic/biodynamic since 2005, are planted on the stony soils of the Fronton terraces with mostly the local star, Négrette, AKA "the little black grape", thought to be a descendant of Cyprus' Mavro grape.
Here Mark blends in some Syrah and a touch of Cab Franc for his Fronton Rouge, rounding out Négrette's brambly fruit profile. This wine is inky, herbal and plush, with blackcurrant, thorny blackberry, licorice, pepper, and pretty floral notes on the finish. You would totally be drinking this bottle with a local charcuterie plate if you were in the south of France, but at home it's a great winter go-to red for all things stew-y and meat-y, as well as roasted veg.