Remember that affordable wine I mentioned last time? It's called Fronton, and it's a favorite of mine. What makes this wine different from some of the others that grow in the area is the grape: négrette, or Pinot Saint-Georges I believe it's called in English. Originally from Cyprus, this dark-skinned variety has been adapted for cultivation in southwestern France for quite some time now. It has a very distinct flavor -think red fruit and spice. But since it can be somewhat of an acquired taste, a négrette blend will usually be more pleasing to the tastebuds.
The area is full of signs pointing to various vineyards proposing wine tastings and vente en direct, also known as the possibility of buying bottles directly from the property. Sign me up! I've had more than enough disappointment taking my chances on 4-5 euro bottles from Carrefour. See ya later supermarket sludge, I've got the good stuff.
On a whim we followed the signs to Château Cransac; Monsieur J and I had already tasted some of their wines in Toulouse and I think we secretly wanted more. We went inside and were promptly offered a tasting by a young saleslady who couldn't have been nicer. We tried three reds and somehow left with 20 bottles -ooops. Then again, the price was oh-so-right.
The good news is that the same can be true for you too. For my Richmond readers, J. Emerson carries an excellent bottle of Fronton that comes in at right under $10 a bottle; I believe they've added a rosé in addition to the traditional red. Fronton isn't very well known, even in France, which means you can usually find some good value bottles. And since it's a wine that pairs well with grilled meats, go ahead and try a glass the next time you grill out. The flavor alone may make you think you're in France, but it's so much cheaper than buying a plane ticket!