A mere 30 minutes from Toulouse is the small appellation of Fronton, the home of one of the most interesting red grape varieties in France--Negrette. It is a thick-skinned, hearty grape that when blended with Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon yields a wine of both power and finesse. Eventually someone will try to exploit it elsewhere, but for now, I know of nowhere else that Negrette thrives.
I first visited Diane
The best bang for the buck at La Colombiere is a bottle Diane calls simply: Reserve. It is a vineyard selection of their best parcels and is fermented entirely in concrete tanks--simply, no magic wand, no winemaking wizardry. It is bottled just before the next harvest, then held for another six months before release. It shows the fresh red and black fruit qualities of Negrette, but also features great structure from the tannin of Cabernet. It is a wonderfully balanced wine.
This wine shows you everything you wanted to know about the grape Negrette--dark, handsome, structured, and beefy (like a male model I guess).
But under the surface, this is a delicious and surprising bottle of wine. Southwest reds often are one-dimensional without much depth and complexity. But this winery "house red" offers lots of extras--dried fruits, African spices, mushrooms--all wrapped around a nice core of black fruit. A really handsome 'Reserve' wine for the price and ready to slurp down with some spring morels and fresh asparagus with good pasta.