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03 July 2023

Languedoc - Fitou: Domaines du Vent, Bertrand-Bergé, Lérys & Château de Nouvelles.

Nathalie Boyer, Domaine du Vent.

The Fitou region nudges against the Corbières hills at the southern edge of the Languedoc before you cross over into the Roussillon, and is split into two parts divided by a chunk of the Corbières appellation in what might have been the middle of it (viticultural history, village politics). In simple terms, the seaside bit lies around Fitou itself and just to the north; and the hillier rockier inland bit is centred on Mont Tauch and the villages of Paziols, Tuchan and spreading north to Villeneuve les Corbières.
Fitou is a 100% red wine area built on the Carignan, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre varieties (roughly in that order of importance). Perhaps they should consider extending the rules to include white and rosé as well, as neighbouring Corbières has done: why not really, if there's something unique about the wine-growing environment? This post features four leading wine estates (re)discovered at a recent encounter in the region, all of them making very recommendable wines.
DOMAINE DU VENT is found in the village of Fitou and was taken over by two previously itinerant winemakers Nathalie and Benjamin Boyer as recently as 2021. They are converting the 15 hectares of vineyards lying in different spots, some elevated and some flatter land, to organic farming. The three tasty reds are only kept in vat before bottling, all were 2021 vintage and of differing styles and seriousness: 'Comme un Souffle une Caresse' (€17 cellar door) and 'Autan en Emporte' (€12) offer combinations of mostly Grenache and/or Carignan; and 'Marindes' is an easier-going Carignan and Syrah (€7.20). US: North Berkeley Imports. domaine-du-vent.business.site

DOMAINE BERTRAND-BERGÉ, in contrast, was established by Jérôme and Sabine Bertrand in 1993 in the village of Paziols, although Jérôme’s family wine-growing history goes back several generations. I discovered them in 2006 (previous reviews are HERE and HERE) and recently noticed that the Wine Society lists one of their reds, the lush and complex 'Origines' made from 60% Carignan and 40% Grenache (organic). The delicious hearty 2020, although now out of stock (2021 is same price, £9.95), combined weight with ripe fruit and tannins, savoury development and wild earthy hints. France €9-€12. UK £10-£15. US €21. €10 Germany. Switzerland CHF 15. Belgium €12-€13. www.bertrand-berge.com

DOMAINE LÉRYS is another long-standing family winery based in Villeneuve Les Corbières, which has been run by Alban and Anaïs Izard since 2012. There are 50 hectares of organic vineyards in both the Fitou and Corbières AOPs, including much 100+ year-old bush vine Carignan in Fitou especially.
'Vin sans de Saint Vincent' 2022 (14.5% abv) is 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre with no added sulphites, made in a fruity up-front style (France €8.50). 'Respélida' 2021 (14%) is shaped by 60% Carignan, 20% Syrah and 20% Grenache and also doesn't see any oak, but is richer with more depth (€8.80-€9.80). 'Belor' 2016 (14.5%) boasts 70% very old Carignan (120 years on average) with 30% Syrah, which are macerated for nine months (that's a very long time!) then aged in demi-muid barrels (600 litres) for six months. Serious wine, beginning to develop very nicely (€20). domainelerys.com

CHATEAU DE NOUVELLES: Jean Rémy Daurat-Fort is the latest generation overseeing 75 hectares of vines around Tuchan, with about a third of these various blocks lying at 250 metres altitude on schist terrain. Recently certified organic. 'Augusta' 2020 was 40% Carignan, 30% Grenache and 30% Syrah with no oak treatment (€10.50). 'Vieilles Vignes' 2019 had the same proportions but older vines (50-70 years) and one-third matured in used barrels (€14). 'Gabrielle' 2019 has more Carignan in the blend (this and the Grenache 70 years old, all grown on schist) with 12 months in barriques (one third new) (€18). And 'Mas La Borde' Fitou is made from younger vines. Also available in Germany and Switzerland. chateaudenouvelles.fr

Other recent Languedoc stuff: Saint-Chinian and Rosé.

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.