The appellation of Fronton is historic, but often overlooked. Located in southwest France, on a terraced plateau overlooking the Tarn river valley, 35km north of Toulouse, Fronton’s viticulture heritage began in ancient Roman times. Historically this region of France has produced red blends based on Négrette. Haven’t heard of négrette before? You’re not alone. Thought to be related to malbec and tannat, négrette produces deeply colored wines with flavors of black and redberries and black pepper. Marc Penavayre, the winemaker and proprietor of Chateau Plaisance, is known to introduce this wine, somewhat tongue-in-cheek as “Fronton; Négrette; a simple country wine.” While the wine is light and easy to drink, it offers layers of nuance and surprise to those who seek it: aromas are fresh and dark: violets, plums, fresh blackberries, black tea and licorice. On the palate, the fruit is fresh and pretty with a note of that tapenade you get from some Northern Rhone Syrahs. This could come from Marc’s commitment to diversity--specifically biodiversity as he has planted all four commercially available clones of Négrette globally to his property. Nearly everything on the property is done by hand, from weeding to applying the essential oils (biodynamic pesticides and herbicides) to the vines. Marc’s vineyards were certified organic in 2011, but he has been practicing organic and biodynamic farming since 2005. He uses indigenous yeast fermentations, in cement or stainless steel tanks, as well as used barrels and wooden foudres. His use of sulfur is limited and his wines generally forgo fining or filtration. This wine is a blend of 68% Negrette, 24% Syrah, 8% Cabernet Franc. Food pairings include wild mushroom ravioli, roast or grilled vegetables with couscous, roast game birds, bacon, pork noir gascone, merguez sausage.