Canon-Fronsac is an appellation for red wines produced in a small area in the east of the Bordeaux wine region. It is encompassed by the wider Fronsac appellation. Canon-Fronsac's southern boundary is marked by the Dordogne river and lies close to Libourne – the town that gives its name to the Libournais wine district. Libourne is home to prestigious appellations such as Saint-Emilion and Pomerol, as well as Canon-Fronsac.
Like Saint-Emilion, just a few miles to the east, Canon-Fronsac has a picturesque, gently hilly landscape made up of woodland, arable land and vineyards. It also has a rich history reaching back hundreds of years, when the area was much favored by French nobility.
Theoretically superior to those of the Fronsac appellation, Canon-Fronsac wines have long ranked among Bordeaux's most respected. As is standard for Bordeaux red wines, they are made from Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec grapes. Cabernet Sauvignon may also be included in Canon-Fronsac blends, although it is less commonly used because it doesn't ripen as well in the cooler soils here.
It is the slightly higher land at the appellation's northern end, away from the alluvial soils by the Dordogne, that produces the best wines. The soils here are more sandstone and limestone than clay, which lends the vines a certain resistance to hotter weather. In vintages like 2003, when the temperatures in August regularly exceeded 40C (104F), Canon-Fronsac wines proved more balanced than those from other Bordeaux appellations, including even those from the highly regarded Medoc district.
The second half of the 20th century was a time of improvement in the wines of both Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac, as they attracted attention from further afield than their established European markets. New technology and changes in winemaking philosophy have led to continued progress, and these appellations now offer affordable alternatives to the high-priced wines of the Medoc, Pomerol and Saint-Emilion.