Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Frontignan is the name of the wine for long called Muscat de Frontignan, the most important of the Languedoc’s four Muscats. Now a distinctly unglamorous town on the semi-industrial lagoon between Montpellier and Sète, Frontignan was famous for the quality of its muscat for centuries. It was probably one of France’s earliest vineyard sites, being close to the saltmarshes around Narbonne. pliny the Younger singled out this particular ‘bees’ wine’ for mention in his letters. arnaldus de villanova, who is credited with the discovery of the process by which most Muscat de Frontignan is made today (see vin doux naturel), claimed that his daily ration of the wine, as advised by the then all-powerful Aragón monarch, made him feel years younger. It was popular in both Paris and London in the 17th and 18th centuries, doubtless with wider appeal then than the dry reds of south west France that were also shipped north. ‘Frontiniac’ was specifically praised by the philosopher John Locke in 1676, while both Voltaire and, even further afield, Thomas jefferson were well-documented and enthusiastic purchasers. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Frontignan clearly made red as well as white wines which were compared with those of that other favourite of our sweet-toothed ancestors, constantia. See also languedoc, history, for details of a claimed link between Frontignan and Ch d’yquem.