“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”
― Ernest Hemingway
Look, Hemingway has long been considered one of the most celebrated authors of the 20th century, but the quote above may just prove it. Wine is a universal language; it’s a way to experience the flavors of a new country; a new culture. It’s an invitation to spend time with friends; to talk without hurry, to—much like the way wine is made, to take your time.
When I saw the newly launched FitVine Wine had Newport ties, I took notice. As the apropos name implies, the wine appeals to those dedicated to a fit lifestyle (this doesn’t mean you need six-pack-abs to enjoy…). Specifically, this clean is not bogged down with additives or residual sugar. It has 1/3 calories and carbs of comparable wines and 1/3 of the sulfites. How? According to founders Mark Warren, Tom Beaton and Zach Schultz, FitVine grapes are grown at high altitude in the Sierra Foothills of California (the wine is made in nearby Lodi, Calif.) and therefore, naturally yield higher concentrations of beneficial compounds including resveratrol, polyphenols and proanthocyanidins. An extended fermentation process enhances the antioxidants and optimizes the pH levels. It’s the later result that makes it unnecessary to add sugars, additives and/or unnecessary amounts of sulfites. Thus, a cleaner wine is born.
With their active lifestyles, Mark, Tom and Zach were inspired to find a savory alternative to other celebratory cocktails. “I was getting older and continuing to workout doing the usual stuff: running, CrossFit, yoga etc., and I often noticed after a race or a competition, people would drink Bud Light or other mass produced products that I knew weren’t all that great—at least not for me,” says Tom. “My thinking was I just put in all this work into this competition, I want to have a drink, but I want it to be as clean as possible. So, I approached my friends Mark and Zach with my idea of creating a great wine that is approachable and drinkable while also being as clean as possible. Zach had been in the spirits business and had a background in chemistry, and Mark is the hardest worker I know, so I knew we might be able to get this going.”
The result? “While we are still a tiny little company, we are having a lot of fun and thankfully people seem to love FitVine,” says Tom.
Sharing a similar ethos, I was excited to try FitVine’s three varietals and their cleaner, healthier qualities—with local Newport ties, no less.
THE VERDICT As a writer for the New England Wine Gazette and Edible Rhody (among other regional and national pubs), I truly enjoyed the trio of FitVine wines I savored. For me, a favorite wine depends much on other contributing factors: season, environment, setting, time of day, weather, company, etc. First up was the Sauvignon Blanc, which I very much enjoyed. Light and dry with hint of citrus—but stopping short of sweet, it’s a savory wine that I’ll long associate with a perfect late summer day. I would absolutely buy this wine in the store.
I enjoyed the Chardonnay (it’s considered the world’s most popular white wine) at a get-together before traveling abroad. As I prefer drier whites, this wine is palate pleasing with it’s crisp finish. The slight citrus hints are well balanced with a trace of vanilla, and while I typically appreciate the oak notes garnered during the finishing process, FitVine’s Chardonnay is finished in stainless steel which perhaps let the citrus notes, like pear, shine brighter.
I saved the Cabernet Sauvignon for last. The producer says this classic Cabernet possesses a “nose of currant, lavender, black licorice and a hint of new oak” with a flavorful blend of cedar, boysenberry, coffee and chocolate. Whatever the ingredients, FitVine’s Cabernet Sauvignon has earned a prominent spot in my autumn and winter wine line up.
I’ve had the good fortune of covering a number of extraordinary wine events over the past 15 years, many with top wine producers. I’ll never forget what one of the most lauded winemakers once told me: “Do you know what the best wine in the world is?” he asked me. “Lafite?” I guessed. “Wrong. It’s the one you enjoy the most.”
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I received complimentary FitVine samples for purposes of this review. Opinions expressed are my own.