Château Champ des Soeurs Fitou Bel Amant 2004
This $13 Langueduc offering presents a warm mouth of fragrant Grenache (50%) stiffened by
the ubiquitous Carignan (40%) with 10% Mourvedre. Though the wine has multiple layers,
sour cherry, blackberry and raspberry fruit dominate, with notes of smoky bacon, thyme,
orange peel and licorice. The tannins have staying power, yet in their final word, in an
excellent finish, retire gracefully. At the finish, I detected nice caramel notes: a hint of
whatever they used to cure that bacon, even a floral overlay.
Unquestionably a success, the Champ des Soeurs brings a number of fine elements you'd not
expect in a wine in this price range, but I am getting used to such bounty in the wines of
both the Languedoc and Roussillion, which include in recent memory a neighboring Corbières, a Minervois, and a Côte de Roussillon-Villages. All four
wines, in addition to having Grenache in common, bring a refreshing directness to the table.
The Fitou in particular has a warm fruity Grenache mouth-feel. I don't question the proportion
of 40% Carignan (the appellation requires a minimum of 30%) but I simply wonder what an
infusion of 10% Syrah, or even a greater proportion of Grenache, might have accomplished; it
almost feels as if I am waiting for the Carignan to step aside and accomplish its assignment
so I can enjoy the rest (a minor stumble, to be sure.)
Verdict: A Fine Regional Effort
Languedoc-Roussillon is a huge region, which I am told produces many commodity wines, but I guess you have to be a starry-eyed tourist to be served those; my own experience has been altogether positive.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman