From Languedoc, With Love and Pride – Wines of Paul Mas
Talking about wines of Languedoc, with the risk of being boring, let me mention a few of the basic facts about the region. Languedoc is the biggest single wine-producing region not only in France, but also in the world. According to Wikipedia, only 13 years ago (in 2001), Languedoc was producing more wine than entire United States. Another important distinction of Languedoc is the fact that it practically has no restrictions on the type of grapes which can be grown there. While Mourvedre, Syrah, Cinsault and Grenache might be main red varietals, pretty much any of the international varietals are also permitted and grown in Languedoc. While such a liberal approach encourages winemaking, its flip side is that a lot of wines are produced under the designation of Vin de Pays d’Oc, which technically stands for “country wines”, a step below in classification compare appellation-specific wines (AOC wines such as Bordeaux, Pomerol, Medoc, etc.).
What this all means to the wine consumer? Value. For the long time, Languedoc had being known as a hidden gem, a secret source of excellent wines which you can enjoy every day, without the need for the special occasion (I actually wrote a post about Languedoc as one of the wine world hidden secrets – you can find it here).
Let me explain why we are talking now about Languedoc wines. A short while ago, I was invited to participate in the virtual tasting of the wines of Chateau Paul Mas. Paul Mas family had been making wines in Languedoc since 1892. Jean-Claude Mas, the 4th generation winemaker, set out to expand farther the family vineyards and winemaking business overall. Starting in 2000, Domaines Paul Mas plantings increased from about 86 acres to 440 acres of vineyards, and it has another 2000 acres under the contract. Just to give you few more facts, in 2006 Jean-Claude was awarded the title of International Mediterranean Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst and Young; in 2008, he was named one of the Top 30 Winemakers of Tomorrow by L’Express magazine in France.
Domaines Paul Mas vineyards are planted with more than 25 varieties including Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Viognier and Chardonnay. Obviously, there is a wide range of wines produced under the Domaines Paul Mas label, including some of the widely successful everyday wines such as Arrogant Frog.
The focus of our tasting was on the single vineyard wines of Chateau Paul Mas. Guillaume Borrot, the winemaker of the Chateau Paul Mas, who was presenting the wines during the virtual tasting, touted them as “affordable luxury”. And the wines were actually made to support this claim. Even the bottle itself, Burgundian in shape and very heavy, was supporting the “luxury” claim. And the fact that all three wines we tasted are available in retail for less than $25 each, definitely makes them affordable.
Well, it is not the look and weight of the wine bottle which will determine the “luxurious” designation. It is the wine itself which should support that claim – and all three wines perfectly delivered. Dense, concentrated and balanced, all well made and ready to be consumed now, or 5-10 years down the road – if you have enough patience though. Here are the more detailed notes on the 3 wines we tasted:
2012 Château Paul Mas Clos des Mures Coteaux du Languedoc AOP (14.5% ABV, 85% Syrah, 10% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre, 10 month aged in oak)
Color: Dark Garnet
Nose: Dark fruit, touch of spices, earthiness
Palate: Spicy cherries, touch of pepper, earthy profile, espresso, soft tannins, medium-long finish.
Verdict: Needs time, should develop nicely. Drinkability: 8-
2011 Château Paul Mas Grés de Montpellier Clos des Savignac Coteaux du Languedoc AOP (14.5% ABV, 50% Mourvedre, 30% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 2 month aged in oak barrels)
Color: Practically black
Nose: Rich, dark chocolate, ripe blueberries, spices
Palate: Loads of pepper, dark ripe fruit, blueberries, perfect balance.
Verdict: Delicious! Drinkability: 8
2011 Château Paul Mas Pezenas Clos du Moulinas Coteaux du Languedoc AOP (14.5% ABV, 55% Syrah, 45% Grenache, 12 month aged in oak barrels, 3,500 cases produced)
Color: Very dark garnet, almost black
Nose: Loads of fruit, nice, open, touch of earthiness
Palate: Earth, hint of sweet fruit, loads of complexity, leather, tobacco, pepper, perfect balance, wow!
Verdict: My favorite wine of the tasting, Has great potential. Drinkability: 9-
There you have it – an encounter with everyday luxury wines, made with love and pride in Languedoc. Some of these wines should be available in US, so make sure to look for them.
Have you had Domaines Paul Mas wines before? Do you have any favorites? What do you think about Languedoc wines in general? Cheers!