Fitou l'Exception 2006, Cave de Mont Tauch - £10.00 (or buy 2 for £9.99 each) at Majestic
There was a time when Fitou was all the rage - around the mid-nineties I think. Much of it was supermarket own-label stuff and its popularity then probably had something to do with the disappearance of a previous source of bargain reds, namely Bulgaria. We always need a suppy of decent, cheapish red wine - and for a few years, Fitou was it. French, but mercifully easy to pronounce, rustically easy to enjoy - that'll do nicely.
After its brief day in the sun, however, Fitou faded from view as we transferred our affections (what fickle serial monogamists we are) to the "sunshine in a glass" provided by New World wines. Fitou has not stopped being produced, of course, and the Mont Tauch co-operative has been quietly toiling away over the years, turning out vast amounts of wine from a mind-boggling 1950 hectares of vineyard owned by 250 different growers.
Not all of it is worth seeking out, by any means, but I was quite taken with this one, made from grapes grown in the best vineyard sites. It's a blend of carignan and grenache with a little syrah. Carignan is an often-despised variety, accused of adding nothing but colour, alcohol and rusticity - but older vines give an inky, spicy character too. This is not all about the black, spicy fruit - it has plenty of that savoury, herbal aroma of southern French garrigue, which seems unique to wines from Languedoc and Roussillon. Great for a dark, late Autumn evening and some suitably hearty food - wild boar sausages would be just about perfect.