Chateau Champ des Soeurs Fitou Bel Amant 2004 Tasting Notes
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Château Champ des Soeurs Fitou Bel Amant 2004 Tasting Notes

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
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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.

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award

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