Archive for the ‘Languedoc’ Category

Three Beautiful Rosé To Fit Any Budget

July 13, 2017 6 comments

Can I give you a small piece of wine advice? I promise it will be short and simple. Here it goes: if you are looking for an excellent value wine, look for the wines of Domaines Paul Mas from France. That’s it. End of the advice. And I can pretty much finish the post right here as this was my main point for today.

Paul Mas Rose

I discovered the wines of Paul Mas 4-5 years ago, and ever since, they were my perennial favorites. Red, White, Rosé, Sparkling – I tried many of the wines (here are a few links – reds, sparkling) and they always delivered – at a great QPR, whether you are buying them at a store or at a restaurant. “Affordable luxury” is a perfect definition for Paul Mas wines, as these wines deliver a great value – without the need to rob the bank or borrow from 401k.

The story of Domaines Paul Mas started in 1892 in the small town of Pézenas in Languedoc (Pézenas’s fame is usually associated with the famous French playwright Molière). The modern part of the history of Domaines Paul Mas, however, is associated with Jean-Claude Mas, who fell in love with winemaking at the age of 3 (yep, and if you want the whole story, you can read it here). Jean-Claude Mas is often credited as a pioneer who is working hard to change the winemaking in Languedoc from the focus on the quantity to the focus on the quality, to bring Languedoc to the old glory of 2000 years of winemaking. 

The wines I want to talk about today are happened to be all … Rosé. I don’t know if this is an effect of summer, but it seems that the pages of this blog are lately nicely colored in pink. Nevertheless, the wines below are well worthy of your attention and deliver a great value which is really hard to beat. Here we go:


2016 Paul Mas Rosé Aurore Pays d’Oc (13% ABV, $8, 1L, 30% Cinsault, 20% Syrah, 50% Grenache Noir)
C: beautiful pale pink, light salmon
N: touch of fresh strawberries, gentle, medium intensity.
P: strawberries all the way, perfect balance, nice, refreshing, clean.
V: 8, outstanding, just perfect.

2016 Arrogant Frog Rosé Lily Pad Pink Pays d’Oc (13% ABV, $8, 100% Syrah)
C: bright pink, intense but without getting into reddish hues
N: strawberries, medium intensity.
P: strawberries with touch of lime, good acidity, good balance.
V: 7+, perfect everyday Rosé

NV Coté Mas Rosé Brut Crémant de Limoux (12% ABV, $15, 70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc, 10% Pinot Noir)
C: beautiful bright pink
N: toasted bread notes, crisp, fresh
P: fresh, clean, lemon, tart strawberries
V: 8, outstanding Rosé sparkling, will compete with any Champagne

Have you had any of these wines? Are they a great value or what? Let me know! Cheers!

From Languedoc, With Love and Pride – Wines of Paul Mas

June 17, 2014 7 comments

DSC_0964Talking 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

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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!


Re-post: Best Hidden Secrets Of The Wine World: Wines of Languedoc

February 20, 2013 4 comments

During 2011 I wrote a number of posts for the project called The Art Of Life Magazine – of course talking about my favorite subject, wine. The project closed and  even web site is down, but as I still like the posts I wrote, so I decided to re-post them in this blog. Also, in that project, posts were grouped into mini-series, such as “Best Hidden Secrets” you see here – I will continue re-posting them from time to time.

Also note that the series was written for a slightly different audience – I hope none of my readers will take offense in the fact that sometimes I’m stating the obvious…

Corbieres_2008Continuing our “Best Secrets” series, we are going to … France again. However, we are going all the way down south, to the region called Languedoc-Roussillon (in most of the cases it is simply call Languedoc).

Why France again, and moreover, what is so special about Languedoc? First, don’t worry, we are just getting started in our “experiences” journey, we will be going all over the world, I promise. Now, to answer the question “why Languedoc”, let me simply give you some facts. Languedoc-Roussillon is single biggest wine making region in the world! It also produces one third of all the wines made in France. I think this is not bad for the beginning.

One of the great things about Languedoc wines is that while many other regions in France are strictly limited in the grape varieties used in the winemaking in that particular region, Languedoc is not. All white wines from Burgundy are made out of Chardonnay, and all the reds are from Pinot Noir. Red Bordeaux are predominantly made out of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes – yes, with the addition of some other grapes, but in any case you will not find any wine which proudly specifies Bordeaux on the label and made out of Pinot Noir or Syrah. Languedoc is different – a lot more grapes can be used in the wine production throughout the region. Red wines can be made out of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Carignan, whites can be made out of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, plus many other red and white grapes can be used in the wine production (for more information about the region, you can always look into Wiki page).

If you are surprised that you didn’t know about Languedoc wines before – don’t be, I’m sure you had Languedoc wines unknowingly. How come? A lot of it is in the labels. Have you seen “Vin de Pays d’Oc” on the labels of wine you were drinking? “Vin d Pays” literally means “Country wines” – level of quality which is one step above “vin de table” table wines, but less than level of AOC wines. But if Vin de Pays can be used with many wines, when you see “d’Oc” added to that it squarely points to Languedoc (last two letters of the region’s name) – if you think about it, I’m sure you had those wines before. There are other well known appellations within Languedoc, such as Corbieres, Minervois and St. Chinian, plus a number of other lesser known appellations. I want to point out that we already discussed one of the Languedoc wines in this “secrets” series of posts when we talked about French Sparkling Wines. That Blanquette de Limoux is produced in the Limoux appellation which is part of the Languedoc region (by the way, if you still didn’t give that Blanquette de Limoux a try, you should do it quickly!).

So what is so “secret” about Languedoc wines? Languedoc is one of the most dynamic wine making regions in France – new appellations created, rules are changing. Languedoc winemakers have more freedom to create, and they are making more and more of the high quality age-worthy wines. And because those wines are not as well known to the public as many others, they happen to represent a great value. Let me give you few examples.

Languedoc_ChardonnayLet’s start with white: 2009 Domaine de L’Olivier Chardonnay Pays d’Oc. If you like Chardonnay, this is the wine to try. Very nice and very clean, great fruit expression – tropical fruits, touch of grapefruit, all with balancing and refreshing acidity and barely noticeable tannins. Great wine which delivers a lot of pleasure.  To put things even in a better prospective I would like to note that retail price of this wine is about US $10 – you would have to get to the $30-$40 price range for Burgundy or California to achieve the same level of experience.

Black sheep GSMAnother example – 2008 Black Sheep Le Grand Noir GSM blend from Minervois. As label suggests, this wine is made out of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre grapes (which is a classic combination of the Rhone grapes). Again with the price tag of about US$10, this is a great deal. Very soft and gently layered fruit, soft tannins are present, but unobtrusive. Good acidity complements this wine well, delivering nice and pleasant experience. Again, considering the price, this is the wine to look for.

Now that you learned yet another secret, it is time to put that knowledge to the practical use. Did you have Rioja wine yet, or may be tried some second label? Now you know about Languedoc wines, so “to do” list just got longer. Go find the bottle and experience this wine tonight – and let me know if your experience was worth reading this article. And just to tell you about what’s ahead, the next time we will talk about something else – will take a break in the secrets series. For now I can only tell you that this “something else” is quite rare and almost forgotten – and I will tell you more the next time we meet…

Do You Believe in Coincidences?

November 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Yesterday, I was doing my usual search for the bottle to open – happens every time if I don’t have a plan upfront. Maybe this one? No, probably too young. That one? That’s a last one, maybe not now. Ahh, this one? No, not now – need a special moment. Then I finally reached out and grab a bottle of 2005 Castelmaure Grande Cuvee Corbieres Rouge – one of the two bottles I had. I was thinking about opening it many times before, but somehow the decision was always to wait until some other time.

This wine is a blend of mostly Syrah and Grenache (45% each) with the addition of Carignan. Opened the bottle, and the wine is beautiful from the get-go – deep, concentrated, showing good dark fruit, some cedar box, nice peppery mid-palate, great acidity and very balanced overall (Drinkability: 8). Next thing I’m going on Twitter to post the message about this wine and there I catch a glimpse of something while scrolling through the updates – Languedoc? #LanguedocDay?

It turns out that on November 10th, the world of social medial celebrated Languedoc Day – Languedoc is a wine region in the South of France. The wine I opened, Castelmaure, comes from Corbieres, which is one of the appellations within Languedoc! The great thing about Languedoc wines is that the appellation rules allow the making of a wide variety of wines from a wide variety of grapes, and due to the fact that the region is not as famous as Bordeaux or Burgundy, lots of great wines are available at a great QPR. I even wrote a post about Languedoc wines at The Art Of Life Magazine in the “Best Hidden Secrets of the Wine World series”.

Now, let’s go back to the subject of the post. At any given moment, I have about three hundred bottles of wine in the house, very few of those are from Languedoc (maybe 2-3 bottles at the most). I had no idea about #LanguedocDay before I selected the bottle. What is the probability of opening a bottle of wine from Languedoc specifically on that particular day, considering that we drink wine literally every day? I believe it is very (did I say “very”?) small. I don’t know how this worked, but somehow it did, so we happened to enjoy the right bottle of wine on the right day.

If you got any good “coincidences” stories, please share them! And no matter what was in your glass yesterday and what will be in it today, I hope you enjoy it. Cheers!

P.S. Don’t forget about PJ Wine Grand Tasting, which will take place next Friday, November 18th – if you want to taste Dom Perignon, Cristal, Krug, 2006 Cheval Blanc, 2000 Chateau d’Yquem, 1990 Mouton-Rothschild, 1985 Chateau Haut-Brion, 1952 CVNE Vina Real Gran Reserva and many other incredible wines, all in one night, click here to get your tickets and don’t forget to use your $10 discount code Talk-A-Vino.

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