Winemaker: Guy Salmona
Vineyards: 45ha, all estate-owned
Vineyard management: Certified organic since 2013
Soils: Sandy soils with small white stones
Grapes grown: Négrette, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Fer Servadou
Annual production: 180,000 bottles
- Guy Salmona took over the estate in 1997, and began farming organically shortly thereafter. He obtained certification in 2013.
- On Negrette and the other indigenous grape varieties of the region: “These high-quality grapes constitute a precious patrimony to be protected. They’ve become rare, but they’re witnesses to history and traditions that are still kept alive by the vignerons who work these vines.” – Guy Salmona
Guy Salmona was a late bloomer as winemaker: until the age of 40, he worked in computer engineering. But once he heard the siren call of the vineyards, he was ready for a total change in his life. After an intensive course of study in viticulture and vinification in Burgundy, he considered the appellations of Cahors, Bergerac, and Gaillac before deciding to settle in Fronton, where he purchased Chateau Laurou in 1997. He saw this bargain of a property as a “sleeping beauty” and, driven by the force of his enthusiasm and a taste for entrepreneurial adventure, Guy Salmona began the investments that would awaken its potential. Organic certification, achieved in 2013, was one of the vigneron’s top priorities. He has achieved a reputation for quality, working in harmony with the vegetative cycles of the vineyard, the characteristics of the terroir, and the variations of each vintage. Guy Salmona sums up his project with the motto, “We make wines that we like.”
The soils are made up of “boublènes blanches,” or sandy white stones, with the low vigor ideal for producing quality fruit. The climate of Fronton also plays an important role. The region gets over 2,000 hours of sunlight each year, with sparse rainfall and relatively cool nights. Along with the warm and dry Vent d’Autan (a south-easterly föhn-type wind), the conditions are perfect for producing healthy, ripe grapes each year.
The main variety planted, at 51% of the vineyard area, is Négrette, a local grape with aromatic finesse and surprising complexity. The grape is originally from Cyprus, and was brought to this part of southern France by knights returning from the crusades. Whatever its origin, it is now the distinctive grape of Fronton, and it’s found hardly anywhere else. It’s a grape that can be a bit capricious, but it makes wines that are elegant, structured, aromatic, and floral. Besides Négrette, Chateau Laurou also grows Syrah (27%), Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon (15%), Gamay (8%), and Fer Servadou (1%).
Destemmed and crushed before being put into tanks, the grapes are vinified in temperature-controlled concrete vats. The duration of the fermentation varies by vintage, allowing an optimal extraction of color and aromas, in order to make expressive wines. To allow the grape varieties to best express their unique characteristics, Guy avoids any and all oak aging for the wines.
The wines of Chateau Laurou are meant to be “true wines of Fronton.” They express its unique character: marked complexity, spicy and floral aromas, flavors of black fruit, and a licorice finish. Forming an essential part of each cuvée, Negrette shows that it can excel solo (“Délit d’Initié”) or in harmony with others (“Tradition”).