Domaine Maria Fita was new to me. I first saw the name in Hugh Johnson’s Wine Atlas and then spotted their stand across an alleyway at Vinisud, so wandered over to investigate further. This is a ten hectare estate in the village of Villeneuve les Corbières, in the higher part of Fitou. Grenache is their main grape variety, along with Carignan, a little Syrah, Lladoner Pelut and Cinsaut. Maria Schmitt and her husband Jean-Michel had run a restaurant in Gordes in the Vaucluse and, seeking pastures new, arrived in Fitou for their first vintage in 2001. Fita is the old name for Fitou, hence the name of the estate. And this is what they were offering at Vinisud.
60% Grenache, with Carignan and Syrah, kept in a concrete vat. Good colour. Quite rounded, leathery, nice depth and texture. Quite elegant with a certain freshness. Conjures up the wild scenery of the region. The soil is schist and limestone.
2007 is a warmer vintage. Medium colour. More solid, rounded and dense, with ripe confit notes, and on the palate dense ripe fruit. Quite alcoholic and tannic. A richer, riper year than 2009. And 14.5˚ gives it some warmth on the finish. It has spent twelve month in concrete and a further twelve months in wood.
90% Grenache with Syrah. Aged in both concrete vats and barriques. Quite solid, dense and youthful on the nose. Quite a tight knit palate. Quite solid and youthful with layers of flavour and considerable depth. A warm confit finish. Speaks of the place.
Their first vintage. The colour was still remarkably young, showing a little development. The grapes were destemmed, and the élevage included 10% new oak. An appealing note of evolution on the palate. Some oak but it was nicely integrated. Good depth, rounded with fruit and flavour and still very youthful. In short it was a brilliant first vintage. Maria explained that until 2004 they worked with an associate who had previous experience of wine-making.
2007 Le Schmitou, IGP Vallée du Paradis rouge
A blend of Grenache, Cinsaut, Syrah and Carignan, from vineyards of younger vines in the middle of the garrigues. In contrast some of their Fitou vines are centenarians. Quite a light palate; quite rounded with some viandé notes and a touch of spice. Less substantial than the Fitou.
A rather original vin de table. From two harvests of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan. Pressed; fermented to leave 8 gms/l residual sugar, which then re-ferments to make for a very light sparkle in the bottle, so no sulphur and no fining. Light red colour. Quite ripe and rounded, soft with some acidity. Some lovely fresh ripe fruit. Original and fun.
2007 Le Schmitou, IGP Vallée du Paradis blanc
A blend of Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc and Macabeo. Fermented in 500 litre oval cement vats. Quite a firm closed nose, with a richer palate. Satisfying texture; quite dense with lots of nuances and matière, and good balancing acidity.
Le Blanc de Marie, No 9 vin de table
Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc and Macabeo. A long ageing period – I am afraid I did not note how long exactly. Hence an amber golden colour. Quite an intriguing nose and palate. Lightly nutty. Medium weight. Quite firm dry nutty fruit, with a long finish. Not especially acidic but quite balanced. Very intriguing and original.
In conclusion, a lovely discovery and I hope I find their wine on a wine list soon so that I can actually have the opportunity to enjoy their wine without the need to spit it out.