He said he’s always trying to find creative new ways to exploit the land his grapes are grown on, to tell the full story of each wine. Because Fitou is located on rocky hills overlooking the sea, he felt there was an opportunity to take advantage of the Mediterranean in the maturing process.
Laurent’s family has been in the winemaking business for 13 generations. He and his wife Marie, an oenologist, are now involved in the entire process from A to Z.
We spent a lot of time with Laurent, who was just fascinating to listen to. He explained the strict rules imposed on winemakers in France. France has a sort of “wine council” that decides what can and can’t be done when it comes to winemaking, in order to give a wine a certain label. The council is meant to “preserve the reputation” of the land of wine, but like many other councils, it often serves as a roadblock to creativity.
For example, Laurent mentioned he’s developing an orange wine, which is made when white wine grapes are processed using red wine techniques. This gives the white wine a more tannic flavor, and a deeper color. It’s an ancient method of winemaking, but one that’s never been fully embraced by France’s wine lords.
Anyway, I must have tasted six different wines, both white and red. The white wines in the region are generally Corbières, and while I’m not normally a fan, I really liked this white called Les Pépettes – which only cost 5 euros. We also picked up a few Fitous, La Tina and Bel Amant.
Laurent also recommended we take a drive through the backcountry of Fitou, on the small winding roads that pass through the vineyards and hills.
I recommend this drive for anyone passing through the region:
Start in Fitou with a wine tasting or two, then drive (or have your designated driver drive) to Embres-et-Castelmaur, then look around to Vingrau and back to Fitou.