Friday, September 05, 2014

Nothing to do with reffing, but I have to tell you about this wine

Fronton, a name I'd never heard until this week when I visited a cute little bistro in Paris called L'Ebauchoir, a five minute walk from the Place de la Bastille, part of Paris that has been cheap and trendy for a while now but is fast losing the "cheap" part. The restaurant ( ) is highly recommended, especially for its wine list, lovingly put together by a couple of blokes who seriously share a love of travelling around France (and elsewhere) finding wines that are uncommon and not too expensive.

So this is how I discovered Fronton, a wine grown in the region around Toulouse in southwestern France, a part of the world where the summer sun is seriously hot. L'Ebauchoir's 2010 Fronton was from the Chateau Deves (there are a couple of accents in there somewhere but I won't bore you with them) and is called "Noir Desir" (Black desire).
You may be sensing a mood here. This wine is most unusual in that it's made of 100 percent Negrette grape, a rare variety that is deeply black in colour and produces wine of such a depth of colour that it looks almost black. Really, I shoiuld have been drinking the wine in the depth of winter with a sticky Daube de Boeuf or Cassoulet, but it was a balmy late sumer's evening and I settled for a rare and bloody steak and some interesting cheese.
The wine tastes as smooth as a good Claret and yet has an earthy kick that carries a strong taste of liquorice. I tasted that myself and had to check with others that liquorice was indeed the signature taste of the Fronton wines, along with violet, which I must confess I didn't grasp.
The red was supposed to have followed a crisp white Burgundy, but I messed it up. That'll teach me for being cocky, although I have to confess all the other (French) diners at the table got it wrong too. It turns out that Auxey-Duresses is not a crisp white Burgundy, but a fruity red Burgundy. Whoops. But hey-ho, it still tasted fine and we managed several of the wines sold by the glass for a very reasonable 6 euros, including a Viognier from the Rhone valley and - to show that they're not completely jingoistic in wine terms - a crispy Gruner Veltliner from Asutria.
All the waiters really knew their stuff and it was fascinating to hear them getting into technical conversations about the wine with my dining companions, all sports journalists who have sampled their fair share of wine. 

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