Sips: Enjoying an $11 Fitou from France’s Languedoc

I doubt that many casual American wine drinkers have ever enjoyed or even heard of Fitou, an appellation in France’s  Languedoc just before that region gives way to the the vineyards of Roussillon to the west. In fact, when I visited Languedoc in May on a tour organized by the region’s trade group, we never made it to Fitou. I wondered what the name meant and found the  answer in a nice sFitounapshot of the region on thewinedoctor.com.  In “Occitan,” it says, referring to the ancient language of the region (Languedoc means language of Oc), “’fitou’ means border or frontier and Fitou once sat at the border between France and Catalonia.”

Fitou is a red-wine appellation, and I reacquainted myself with it the other night when I opened and enjoyed a sample I had received for review. Mont Tauch’s 2008 Fitou is from one of the region’s better-known cooperatives, which dominate production, and is a medium-bodied wine with gentle tannins. It’s not profound but has decent complexity and is about as  as good as it gets at a suggested retail price of $11, which means you can probably find it for a dollar or two less.

As it opened up with a little air, I got both blackberry and raspberry tastes along with herb, green olive and cinnamon notes. The blend is 40 percent syrah, 30 percent grenache and 30 percent carignan, the region’s signature variety. I chilled it for a few minutes to make it more refreshing on a warm summer evening, then enjoyed it in front of a good movie with a plate of pasta tossed with sliced cherry tomatoes, garlic and parsley sautéed in olive oil. It will also match even better with grilled sausage, pork or chicken. Imported by USA Wine West, Sausalito, California. Received as a press sample.

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