Posts Tagged ‘Fitou’

Drinks in Seattle


There is a cycle of demolition and construction which has persisted across the recession in Seattle.  It is both fascinating to watch both across and within my visits.  I must admit it is one aspect I look forward to when I fly out.   Amongst the wines I tasted one year ago on the 33rd floor of my hotel were the 2011 Owen Roe, Sinister Hand and 2010 Gifford Hirlinger, Stateline Red.  Strangely enough I tasted the opposite vintages during my most recent trip.  The 2010 Owen Row, Sinister Hand, Columbia Valley is starting to open up to reveal a very satisfying wine which is gaining complexity.  It should drink well for several years so I definitely recommend you grab several bottles.  The 2011 Gifford Hirlinger, Stateline Red, Columbia Valley loses the Tempranillo and Petit Verdot from the previous vintage but gains Syrah.  There is no doubt that at $13 you get a ton of wine for the price.  It drank best on the first night when it was mouthfilling and hedonistic rather than the second night when heat was breaking through.  It is honestly too much for me but that is perhaps better than too little at this price point.  Finally, the 2010 Domaine Grand Guilhem, Fitou was a lighter but serious wine.  I remember drinking Fitou during my Bristol days because it was rather inexpensive but still had character.  The Sinister Hand was purchased at Whole Foods, the Gifford Hirlinger was purchased at Pete’s Wine of Eastlake, and the Grand Guilhen was purchased at Bar Ferd’nand.


2010 Owen Row, Sinister Hand, Columbia Valley – $25
This wine is a blend of 71% Grenache, 24% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre.  Alcohol 14.3%.  This had a fresh nose of fruit and lemony citrus.  The flavors were slightly tight with a tannic start.  The red and orange fruit flavors morphed into more black flavor mixed with spices and a savory end.  The structure was there but the tannins were not really noticeable  until the finish.  The was followed by an orange hint in the aftertaste.  Best on the second night.  *** Now-2019.


2011 Gifford Hirlinger, Stateline Red, Columbia Valley – $13
This wine is a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40$ Merlot, and 15% Syrah which was aged for 18 months in 30% new American oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.9%.  There was a lot of robust, forward fruit that was black and mouth filling.  It had moderate weight then salty power in the finish.  On the second day noticeable heat came out in the aftertaste.  It was smooth on the outside with a sense of roughness and mouth-filling power but the heat was distracting.  ** Now.


2010 Domaine Grand Guilhem, Fitou – $22
Imported by Barrique Imports.  This wine is a blend of Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This was a little stinky at first then black fruit aromas came out.  In the mouth were brighter and lighter black fruit flavors.  It was a touch juicy with a little tang near the start.  The tannins played out near the end dressing the wine up with a little bit of structure.  It was lighter and youthful but in a serious way.  ** Now-2016.

Fitou and Cotes de Thongue from 2006

September 19, 2011 Leave a comment

These are two affordable selections that pop up on the shelves at MacArthur’s from time to time.  The Domaine Montrose is available for $13 whereas the Domaine de Rolland is a little cheaper.  I would pass on the Domaine de Rolland and give the Domaine Montrose a go.  The later wine is a bit polarizing but if you like it then you have found a new bargain!

2006 Domaine de Rolland, Fitou
There are blue fruits and herbs in this light to medium bodied wine.  The fruit, acidity, and tannins are all in balance.  It was not particularly complex but left the impression of being at its peak.  I would drink sooner than later.  Pleasing but not exciting. ** Now.

2006 Domaine Montrose, La Balade des Lezards, VdP des Cotes de Thongue
This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah sourced from 50-year-old vines.  This wine drank well over two nights.  There was a medium garnet color and a nose of red, wacky fruit.  A unique set of red fruits with a bit of salt cheerfully exist in this medium-bodied wine.  It is still tannic but has a good amount of acidity.  Towards the end the tannins become drying as the entire package turns astringent.  I suspect this will chug along for several years to come.  This was not Jenn’s favorite. ** Now-2014.

2003 Domaine Bertrand-Berge, Cuvee Jean Sirven, Fitou

Vineyards of Bertrand-Berge, Image by Le Sommelier (flickr)

I started drinking the wines of Domaine Bertrand-Berge many years ago when my friend Shane introduced me to the 2001 Cuvee Ancestrale.  Jenn and I ultimately drank several cases of this wine over the years.  The Bertrands have been vignerons in the tiny village of Paziol for six generations.  The great-great-grandfather Jean Sirven won medals for his wines at the 1900 World’s Fair.  The family stopped producing wine in the 1960s when they become cooperative growers.  Indeed, Fitou is dominated by cooperatives.  But in 1993 Jerome and Sabine Bertrand modernized the estate and begin to produce wine.  Today the estate is comprised of 33 hectares located at the heart of Fitou on clay and gravelly soils that are sprinkled with galets.  The vineyards are planted with Grenache, Carignan, and Syrah that have an average age of 60 years.  The estate is in the processing of converting to organic production and should be certified in 2013.

1945 Berge-Sirven, Fitou, Image by Johan Kohlstrom (flickr)

The Cuvee Jean Sirven was created in 1999 when the Bertrands worked with their consulting eonologist Claude Gros.  This cuvee is an homage to the wines made over a century earlier.  This wine is a blend of Syrah, Carignan, and some Grenache.  The wine is aged on lees for 16 to 18 months in 100% French oak.  There are approximately 150 cases produced.

Fitou is Located at the Bottom of the Map, Image from FineTheVine

I first started drinking the wines of Fitou two decades ago during my Bristol days.  The name Fitou stems from Fita which is Occitan for border or frontier.  The village of Fitou contains a ruined castle which defended the border between Catalonia and France.  Fitou AOC is a very large, bifurcated appellation in Languedoc-Roussillon.  It is the oldest table wine appellation in the Languedoc having received status in 1948. 

The Castle of Fitou, Image by Alf (flickr)

Fitou is split into two areas: Fitou Maritime and Fitou de Hautes-Corbieres.  Fitou Maritime encompasses the vineyards located on coastal plains around the village of Fitou.  These soils contain more clay and the morning mist suits the Mourvede grape very well. Fitou de Haute-Corbieres encompasses the vineyards on the rugged terrain of Corbieres that are interspersed with those of Corbieres AOC.  These poor, dry soils contain schiste and the Syrah vines grow well here.  According to Rosemary George the original intention was to create two distinct appelations, Fitou and Cotes de Tauch.  The INAO wanted a single appellation but their decision was delayed by World War Two and the refusal of the villages.  The vineyards of Bertrand-Berge are located in Fitou de Hautes-Corbieres.

I picked up the last bottle of Cuvee Jean Sirven from MacArthur’s this winter for $37.  As it was the last bottle it was priced just above wholesale with the original retail price closer to $56.  Schneider’s currently sells this bottle for $50.  This is a good wine but certainly steeply priced at $50.  Even at $37 it is a bit of a stretch.  If you looking for an introduction to the wines of Fitou or Bertrand-Berge then opt for their Cuvee Ancestrale.

2003 Domaine Bertrand-Berge, Cuvee Jean Sirven, Fitou
This wine has a light to medium nose of complex, sweet fruit, leather, brambly berries, and a hint of tobacco.  This medium bodied wine has ripe, dusty fruit that lasts all of the way through the mouthfilling aftertaste.  There are woven notes of tobacco and dried leaves throughout.  The flavors turn towards fresh, red plums in the finish.  A tasty wine that is most likely at its peak, though it should drink well for several more years.

Five Bottles Under $25, 28 December 2007

December 28, 2007 Leave a comment

2004 Bertrand-Berge, Cuvee Megalithes, Fitou
I have been interested in trying the Megalithes for a while now. Earlier in the year I purchased a case of the 2001 Cuvee Ancestrale (50% Carignan, 30% Grenache, and 20% Syrah) which I have been slowly enjoying.  It is an affordable, medium-sized wine that offers a complete package of bottle-aged nose, flavors, and finish. The Cuvee Megalithes is a majority old-vine Carignan (95% ?) wine that received three stars in the 2007 Hachette.  The nose was resolutely clamped down, only offering light aromas of black fruit and alcohol.

2001 Domaine la Soumade, Gigondas
I did not like this.  Not much of a nose, one-dimensional berry flavors overshadowed by tannins.  Maybe an underperforming bottle?  I have enjoyed other Soumade wines.

2004 Domaine la Bouissiere, Gigondas
This is 62% Grenache/38% Syrah according to North Berkley Imports and 70% Grenache/30% Syrah according to Michael Skurnik Wines.  My bottle, imported by Dionysos Imports just states Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre.  Tanzer’s note states 16% alcohol, the Bouissiere label states 14.5%, and the Dionysos Imports label states 13%.  In any event, take your pick.  I enjoyed this wine and did not find it hot. Red and black berries, around a savory core, with fine tannins.  This needs more age than the Bel Air.

2005 Domaine la Bouissiere, Bel Air, Vacqueyras
This is 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah aged  80% in barrique and 20% in tank. This young wine is tasty and captivating from the start.  The Bel Air is a tad more purple in color than the La Ponche.  Red berries and spice are carried by obvious tannins.  Tastes almost the same on the second night, I would definitely cellar this for several years.  I liked it.

2004 Domaine la Bouissiere, La Ponche, Vacqueyras
This is 76% Grenache and 24% Mourvedre aged 100% in barrique.  This is tighter all around compared to the Bel Air.  Darker berries, stronger tannins; I found that the flavors drop off leaving a persistant tannic finish.  I thought there was less going on than the Bel Air.

1994 Clarendon Hills, Merlot
My wife and I first had this several years ago.  I didn’t take notes but it had a memorable profile.  Right out of the bottle an assertive nose of salty olives and flavors of salty olives, both of which grew in strength with air.  A hard wine to drink, it brought back memories of the previous bottle.  I never would have guessed this as merlot.  So I opened the 1998 Andrew Will, Ciel du Cheval, Merlot to drink