GrapesRare GrapesWine

Bouysselet – Fronton’s future?

No Comments

In September 2022 as covid lockdowns were eventually easing, I was with Keita Wojciechowski (author of Culinary Encyclopaedia of Japan) in Rouge^Gorge, Gaillac when he suddenly got excited (a rarity for Keita). He had just spotted a label on the shelf: Le Grand B, a rare grape called Bouysselet from Château de La Colombière.

2 days later I returned to buy a bottle.

1 year later I was sitting with the producer Diane Cauvin at the domaine to learn how she and her husband Philippe had rediscovered Bouysselet and not only revived it from the brink of extinction, but found a grape that could be the future of Fronton’s white wines.


35 km north of Toulouse lies a wine region that many are unfamiliar with: Fronton.

It even has its own Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée/Protegée “Fronton” AOC/AOP established in 1975 with a very focused offering:

  • Reds and Rosé (65% and 35% of the AOC wines respectively), of which the majority of the grapes must be from the local Négrette variety.

Any whites were simply labelled as “Vin de France”.

Rediscovering Bouysselet

Anne & Philippe had been looking for a potential signature white grape for the region.
In 2009 they came across 60 vines of an unknown grape in the farm of Famille Brousse, fruit growers in the area.
There were too few vines to make wine so they had been kept alive out of interest for possible future research.
(Rumour has it that some years the Brousses do make a rustic wine from these original Bouysselet vines).

Anne & Philippe grafted these on to 230 of their own 40 year old rootstock, co-planted Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin as insurance in case this new-found Bouysselet was a dead end.

2010 saw their first release: Le Grand B.

In fact, Bouysselet proved to so hardy that it survived poor vintages when 80% of the other grapes were lost. The thick-skinned late ripening grape is not only rot and heat resistant, but can make some delicious wines too.

They planted a further 1.3 Ha  between 2013-2015  and a further 1 Ha in 2020.

From 60 vines in 2009, to 230 (0.5Ha) in 2010, there are estimated to be around 5-10Ha of Bouysselet in the Fronton AOC, with producers in neighbouring regions starting to plant vines.

A Bouysse by any other name:

DNA tests have shown that Bouysselet is likely a crossing of Plant de Cauzette from the western Pyrenees and Savagnin (Traminer) from the Jura.

It is thought that the name derives from a variation of le petit bois (“buisson”) referring to vine’s appearance in full bloom.

It is unknown whether or not it is related to Arrufiac (Bouisselet).

Although there are no official synonyms for Bouysselet, it is unofficially referred to as “Bouysselet de Fronton”. It was almost called “Prunelard Blanc”, the name initially suggested by Diane but opposed by neighbouring Gaillac producer Patrice Lescarret of Causse Marines, as he had discovered genuine Prunelart Blanc in his vineyards north of Rodez.

So what’s it like?:

Bouysselet produces powerful and rich wines and has been used in a variety of dry white wine styles (blended & single variety, orange, barrel fermented, oxidative).

The flavours are subtle and it can show some of the following : smoky notes, almond, flint, spicy, citrus, oxidative notes. I have even found some delightful salinity in Le Roc’s Bouysselet, a rarity in the region.

Revival Timeline

2009 Diane & Philippe Cauvin find 60 vines on the property of Famille Brousse.
2010 230 vines grafted onto 40 y/o rootstock.
2011 La Colombière produce their first vintage of Bouysselet : “Le Grand B“. (released in 2012)
2014 La Colombière start a 1 barrel Bouysselet solera to be released in 2023.
2016 Bouysselet is registered in the French catalogue of official grape varieties (link)

Marc & son Thibaut Penaveyre (Domaine Plaisance Penaveyre) plant their first Bouysselet vines.

2018 Plaisance Penavayre release their maiden 2017 vintage of Bouysselet.

Château Viguerie plant a small parcel which is first harvested in 2020.

Inspired by the discovery of Bouysselet and its heritage, Vigne Vin Occitanie release a family tree of grapes of SW France: link

2019   Château Laurou plant Bouysselet (released under the Lionel Osmin brand).
2021 Château Viguerie release their first Bouysselet vintage (2020).
2022       La Colombière produce an experimental orange barrel fermented Bouysselet “A Fleur de Peau” (released in 2023).

Local producers campaign to have Bouysselet recognised as an official grape for white wines under the Fronton AOC.

2023  Château Belagues harvest their first Bouysselet – and age in Amphora to be released in 2025.

La Colombière release their solera  Bouysselet “Solaire”.

There are estimated to be up to 10 growers/producers of Bouysselet – most using clones from the Fronton Conservatoire.

2025  Look out for Château Belaygues amphora – the first Bouysselet in amphora.

The Producers

(as of September 2023)
Famille Brousse
  • owners of the original 60 vines and rumoured to produce small quantities of rustic wine from these from time to time.
La Colombière – Diane & Philippe Cauvin
Diane & Philippe Cauvin
  • Le Grand B – barrel fermented on native yeasts. From the 230 grafted vines, first released in 2011.
  • Solaire – single barrel solera started 2014 and topped up annualy. First bottled and released in 2023.
  • A Fleur de Peau  – a barrel fermented orange wine with 15 days skin maceration. First vintage 2022 released in 2023.
  • The youngest vines are also in several blends: Bande de Sauvages (with Macabeau & Muscat d’Alexandrie) and Les Jacquaires (with Sauvignon Blanc & Chenin Blanc).

Certified organic & biodynamic (Biodyvin)

Domaine Le RocFrédéric Ribes
Frédéric & Anne Ribes
  • Bouysselet – barrel fermented and aged on lees for 1 year. Grafted from La Colombière’s

Certified organic

Plaisance Penaveyre – Louis, Marc & Thibaut Penaveyre
Thibaut & Marc Penavayre
  • Bouysselet– clone from the local conservatoire’s plantings. First released 2018 .

Certified organic

Château Viguerie (Cédric Faure)
  • L’impertinent – barrel fermented & aged (12 months). First released in 2020

Certified organic

Château Laurou / Lionel Osmin
  • Bouysselet – currently 3 Ha of vines. First release may have been 2021.
Château de Belaygues (Guillaume et Séverine Veyrac)
  • 1st harvested in 2023 and aged in amphora. To be released in 2025
Château Boujac (Philippe Selle)
  • Boujac have confirmed to us that they grow Bouysselet, we are currently verifying whether they have vinified / bottled it as a mono-cépage.

Outside of Fronton, there are several producers in Gaillac growing Bouysselet that is used in blends.


Take a tour around La Colombière with local SW France wine champion – Joanne dans le vin:

The website local Maison de Vins in Fronton:

In addition to meeting with several of the producers, including La Colombière, the following resources were consulted:

The website of the Fronton Appellation:

An overview of the grapes of SW France and grape family tree inspired by the discovery of Bouysselet: link

Great article in Terre De Vins that beat Wine Fogg to publication in Nov 2023 (French): link

Articles in regional newspaper La Dépêche on Henri Brousse and La Colombière: link1 link2


Make sure to subscribe to the Wine Fogg newsletter for updates on future articles on rare grapes and the stories of their (re)discovery:
Tags: Bouysselet, Fronton, Rare Grapes, SW France

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

MOONQ’s Nrneni revival