Fouola negra (the crazy black grape) in Niçois dialect is a local variety not known elsewhere in France, although a few varieties in the south east of France have the same local name, they are not related.
Also called Fuella Nera and Folle Noire. Fodere in 1821 talks of ‘la fola’, 1836, Ragazzoni wrote of ‘fluella’. Other names were ‘Fuola’, ‘Bellet Negre’ and Fole. Across the river Var it was/is called Grassenc around Grasse, and Ausbie in Provence.
Descriptions of the wine in the 19th century talk of another local variety Trinchiera (no longer used) being blended with Fuola and, that when aged, taking on the flavour of ‘goudron’ (tar) like old Bordeaux. Modern Bellet wines made with a high percentage, or even 100% Folle Noire, can be prone to reductive, rubbery aromas – which may be the tar character?
Inky fine grain tannins and black fruit (Bellet); good acidity, austere mineral tannins, berry and floral notes (Cremat – 40% Grenache); black fruit and roses (Nicea); big black chewy fruit and inky tannins (Clos St Vincent – 15% Grenache); inky tannins and fresh red fruit (La Source – 20% Grenache); savoury, spice, black fruit, floral notes with inky tannins and fresh acidity (Toasc); Back chocolate, floral leafy aromas (Fogolar) and liquorice, tar, floral, when young developing into cherry confit flavours with spice (St Jean). The fruit can be more red or black fruit depending on vintage.
It has a DNA connection to the Italian variety Nero d’Avola, the most important red grape in Sicily and is one of Italy’s most important indigenous varieties. Its wines are compared to New World Shirazes, with sweet tannins and plum or peppery flavours.