The oxidative, fortified winemaking tradition of the northwestern Mediterranean is quickly becoming a lost art. The Roussillon, a large part of which is French Catalonia, was historically a very important production area for this style of wine. These wines were for seafaring men, as the wine doesn’t spoil under even the most extreme conditions.
The tradition is alive and well at La Tour Vieille, in the ancient port town of Collioure near the Spanish border. Vincent Cantié produces this Banyuls, named after another nearby port, from ripe Grenache whose fermentation is arrested by distilled spirits; the resulting wine is sweet and fruity with about 16 percent alcohol.
It is best consumed as a digestif, with chocolate desserts, or in the midst of a mighty gale many miles offshore.