Château Bouissel

Fronton is a small district just outside Toulouse with a reputation for light sappy reds that go well with local cooking. It is also one of the oldest vineyards of France. The wines are made from the rare negrette grape variety, as legend has it brought back to France from Cyprus by returning Crusaders. The wide-terraced vineyards overlook the river Tarn on gentle slopes of sand and pebbles with iron and quartz below. Only red grapes are planted here with the dark-skinned negrette accounting for at least half of any blend.

Château Bouissel is an absolutely classic yet modern Fronton estate. 22 hectares of vines are farmed by Pierre Selle with the help of his wife Anne-Marie on one of the terraces left behind by the Tarn as it carved its way through the prehistoric landscape to link up with the Garonne. Pierre took over what was his family estate in 1978 and, having shared the produce of his vines with the local co-operative for the first few years, decided in 1986 to go it alone. He extended the cellar, bought new equipment and was joined two years later by Anne-Marie when she gave up her job in nursing to work beside him having qualified in viticulture and oenology at college.

They grow the indigenous negrette, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, cot (aka malbec) and some syrah and gamay to make a selection of red and rosé wines. Everything is done by hand, including the harvest. The influence of both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean can be felt, together with cooling southerly winds during ripening, to moderate the effects of a semi-continental climate of hot summers and freezing winters.