Grape Variety: Braucol
Also known as Fer, as well as Mansois (in Marcillac), Braucol or Brocol (in Gaillac), and Pinenc (in Madiran), the grape is quite widely planted, but only throughout south west France. In addition to Marcillac and Gaillac, the variety can be found in varying concentrations in Bergerac as well as in the Aveyron department zones of Entraygues and Estaing. Marcillac is the only zone in which Fer is the sole variety permitted; in Gaillac, Fer (there known as Braucol) shares the stage with Syrah and another southwest rarity called Duras. In Madiran, Fer can be a minority blending component with the larger players namely Tannat and the two Cabernets.
The name “Fer” (meaning “iron”) is derived from the vine’s famously hard, tough trunks. The vine’s precise origins however are not as clear as the roots of its name, but there is some indication through some preliminary DNA analysis that it may be a distant relative of Cabernet Franc, but this is still unclear. And as is the case with so many of these “marginal” varieties, especially in France where there is a clear, hard and fast hierarchy of varieties from “noble” to “local curiosities”,
Braucol produces a wine which displays fresh raspberry and redcurrant fruit with a jagged acidity, and, in the case of Marcillac, a strong earthy, slatey flavour (from the very specific red soil of Marcillac called ‘rougier’), see the Marcillac Cuvee Peirafi from Le Vieux Porche (Jean-Luc Matha) - this wine is a mouthful of forest fruits, minerals and spices.
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