Fitou, a wild and remote subzone on the Languedoc-Roussillon border, is the very first granted appellation in that region. It consists of two small enclaves within Corbières: Fitou Maritime, a clay-limestone band around the saltwater lagoons on the coast, and Fitou Montagneux, a patch of mountainous schist fifteen miles inland. It’s in the former terrain, in the village of Leucate, on the north shore of L’étang de Leucate, where Mireille and Pierre Mann have been steadily building their estate, Mas des Caprices, into one of the top producers in the region.
This is a rugged land kissed by both the mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. High yields are impossible to achieve here. Indeed, many of the wines from this region are produced with similar (or even smaller) yields to the most sought after wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy.
The couple, both children of Alsace winemakers, ran a restaurant near the city of Colmar for 10 years. While they loved providing their patrons fresh local products, they felt the need for greater challenges. So they decided to rebuild their lives closer to the earth. In 2003 they moved to southern France and began reinventing themselves as winemakers.
Their passion was evident from the start. The duo eventually settled on the Mediterranean coast and quickly made a name for themselves by producing tasty, genuine wines. Certified organic in 2009, their guiding philosophy is meticulous work in the vineyard while respecting nature with the goal of producing wines that are both expressions of their unique environment and utterly delectable. Forget pudding, the proof of the wine is in the drinking.
Special prices based on purchase of 6-pack (mix-and-match).
~$27 “ZE” (Fitou 2016) Dry Red
A blend of 40% Carignan, 35% Grenache, and 25% Mourvèdre from the windswept Leucate cliff. Fruit, both ripe and fresh, provides the foundation for this crowd-pleasing red. Maturation takes place for nine months, mainly in concrete vats, with around 20% aging in old barrels. Exceptionally floral on the nose, a sip seduces the palate with velvety tannins and silky berry salad. Pop a bottle for pizza, shawarma, or game night with friends.
~$33 “Retour aux Sources” (Fitou 2016) Dry Red
45% Carignan, 25% Mourvèdre, 20% Grenache, and 10% Syrah from the Fitou maritime hillsides where pink schist and limestone mix. Maturation takes place for nine months, with roughly 70% of the wine in concrete vats and the rest in old barrels. Bold ripe fruit, excellent structure, and heady aromas of ripe fruit and herbs make a wine ideal for hearty vegetable dishes like ratatouille and olive tapenade.
~$33 “Anthocyane” (Fitou 2015) Dry Red
The tête de cuvée from Mas des Caprices is composed of 47% Mourvèdre, 36% Carignan, and 17% Grenache from the estate’s most noteworthy parcels on the limestone plateau of the Leucate peninsula. The wine is matured for close to 16 months in both barrel and demi-muid. It is a broad-shouldered, concentrated wine that still shows finesse. Lovely aromas of bursting ripe black fruit and delicate spice will pair exceptionally well with slow-braised meats and creamy starches.
~$26 “g grenat” (Rivesaltes Grenat 2015) 500ml Sweet Red
The Rivesaltes designation is for the “Vin Doux Naturel” wines that are fortified during fermentation to leave natural residual sugar. Grenat defines a particular Rivesaltes that is both a vintage wine and must be produced with at least 75% Grenache Noir. “g grenat” is actually 100% Grenache Noir that is fresh and full of jellied fruit with a hint of cocao. It has just enough tannin and acidity to avoid being syrupy yet maintaining a softness and ease. It makes a fine dessert on its own or paired with dried fruit, salted nuts, and fresh cheeses.