Domaine Les Mille Vignes “Cadette” (Fitou, 2012)
Loyal readers of our “Saturday Sips” email know that we rarely feature a wine and vintage that we’ve done before. But after drinking a stunningly good bottle of 2012 Domaine Les Mille Vignes “Cadette” recently we decided that there can be exceptions to this principle.
“Cadette” is a blend of equal parts Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre from vines over 50 years old. The aromatics explode from the glass with red currant jelly, wild thyme and lavender scrubland, roasted stones, smoky meats, and soul. The layered palate is medium-bodied, ripe, and balanced by freshness and energy. While it’s a wine that is immediately sensual, if you spend a little time with it you’ll see that its beauty is profound. It’s the ideal wine to transition into spring and pair with a hunk of charcoal-grilled red meat when there’s still a bite in the air and the crocus flowers are just beginning to break the soil.
Situated on the coastal area between Spain and where the Rhône empties into the Mediterranean Sea, the Languedoc-Roussillon has always been a highly productive wine-making zone. It’s really been in the past handful of decades that more ambitious winemakers have taken full advantage of soils and micro-climates that are capable of producing world-class wine. Because some of these exceptional sub-zones of the Languedoc-Roussillon are small and somewhat obscure to the rest of the world, prices are still quite reasonable given the quality and aging potential that many of the wines possess.
Fitou is one of these sub-zones. It is the very first granted appellation in Languedoc. It consists of two small enclaves, Fitou Haut, a patch of mountainous schist 15 miles inland, and Fitou Maritime, a clay-limestone band around the saltwater lagoons on the coast. It was late 1970s, in the Fitou Maritime, that a retired oenology professor from Orange, Jacques Guérin, launched Domaine Les Mille Vignes. Today it’s Jacques’ daughter, Valérie Guérin, who is carrying on the ethic of low yields, organic principles, hand-harvesting, and native yeast fermentation.
It’s not by luck that Domaine Les Mille Vignes’ wines can be found on starred restaurant wine lists in Paris. Their old vines and low yields allow the wines to reach their full, seductive potential. With all aging done in stainless steel vats, the wines are all about purity of fruit and the distinction of Fitou. You could rest some “Cadette” in the cellar for five years or more if you can keep your hands off of it now.