At the centre of this abundant production is the chasselas grape, the sweetheart of local growers. It has led Moissac to be recognized as a Noteworthy Place of Flavour (Site Remarquable du Goût) as a result of its continuing tradition of exacting know-how at the heart of an exceptional heritage.
The Moissac chasselas, an AOC grape
Chasselas, THE AOC grape
Chasselas is the name of the cepage. The grapes ripen early with juicy pips and a flavourful pulp. Its delicate dull golden robe, called the pruine, evokes the elegance of the most prestigious tables. On its home soil, this prestige is available to everyone, and the flavourful aromas of its crispy pulp earned it an AOC.
In 1971, the Moissac grape was designated an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (literally “controlled term of origin”) in order to recognize the expertise of its growers and safe-guard the terroir by defining its geographical boundaries.
Family or commercial cultivation
At first marginal compared to other crops at the beginning of the 19th century, the cultivation of chasselas took more and more place as time passed. Beginning with cultivation intended for home consumption, the production of the chasselas grape intensified and trade grew up around it.
The significant increase in production of chasselas during the second half of the 19th century was made possible by the introduction (from Thomery) of vines of the Fontainebleau chasselas variety in the 1850’s. The Thomery grape itself came from the “treille du Roy” (royal climbing vine) of Fontainebleau.
The Moissac slopes are the natural equivalent of the artificial “walls” installed in Thomery and Fontainebleau for the cultivation of the chasselas grape. The sunshine of the southern slopes of the Quercy is ideal for growing chasselas.
The fruit trade
Thanks to the chasselas grape, the city of Moissac became an important commercial centre in the 19th century. A daily market was held under the Paris Pavilion (Halle de Paris) in Récollets Plaza (Place de Récollets) where the trade in grapes between growers and distributors took place.
By waterway, then by rail, the transport of the grape assured the prosperity of the city. The phenomenon will only get bigger...making the Chasselas grape the prince of the harvests.
The Discovery Guide lists the best addresses where one can taste the chasselas along with other local fruit.
The chasselas cures
In Moissac the chasselas grape is also consumed as part of a curative regime. These cures are called grape cures. In French they are known as “cures uvales” from the Latin uva = grape.