This is not a column about wine... directly. It is about what wine is not, at least in the conventional sense. Yes, there is a wine here today that I recommend you go out and pick up because it is the SHIT! Not only is it the shit, but the man who imports it is a fucking maniac... Charles Neal. This guy is a writer stuck in the shell of a wine importer. He has written two definitive books on France's great brandy-producing regions: Normandy and Armagnac. His wines are consistently inconsistent supply-wise, and he is incredibly hard to pin down. But the families with whom he works are all small terrorist cells, in terms of the wine world. This wine is no exception and is the epitome of what I love in the wine world today. It is not produced in massive quantity; it is not coming from what might be recognized as a "known" wine-producing region. It is born of the work of human hands in the vineyard, of soil and vine. It is coaxed from its skin, of its own volition. The grape is Négrette (native to Fronton, a small village and AOC just northwest of Toulouse). In this part of France's southwest hinterlands, there is a strong presence of producers growing vines indigenous to the area—Fer Servadou, Duras, and Négrette are just a few. This is the product of two brothers, Jean-Luc and Frederic Ribes, and Frederic's wife, Catherine, working closely with what they love to do... make simple wine, not masquerading as something else. It is truthful, unabashedly brash, fresh purple love to pour down your gullet... and it's 14 bucks.
Marc Papineau is the owner of Bar Ferd'nand and wine director of the London Plane—you can find La Folle Noire d'Ambat at both. We're forbidding him from writing about wine that he sells in the next installment of this column.