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Daily Glass: Summer Perfect

June 7, 2015 9 comments

Is there a such thing as “summer wines”? When I think about this subject, I’m always torn. I don’t have any problems drinking Provençal Rosé or crisp light white wine in the winter, and I would never refuse a glass of heavy and hedonistic California Cabernet in the summer. But is it only in my mind that I’m so open-minded (hmmm, was that a pun, and was that intended?) – in reality, I would usually gravitate towards reds in the winter, and Rosé and white wines as the temperatures starts rising. After all, there might some merit to the summer wines concept. Anyway, let’s proceed.

Today I want to bring to your attention a summer-perfect collection of White and Rosé wines – they were all samples I got recently (some are even not so recently), but most importantly, they will perfectly brighten up your summer day.

Let’s start with the two of the excellent Rosé wines from France – Domaines Paul Mas. Last year, I was lucky to taste through the Paul Mas portfolio of red wines, and after tasting Rosé wines this year, I can only say that it is not for nothing Paul Mas is considered a specialist in “Affordable Luxury”.  The first wine was 2014 Côté Mas Rosé Aurore Sud De France Pays d’Oc IGP (13% ABV, 30% Cinsault, 20% Syrah, 50% Grenache, $12.99 SRP, 1L bottle) beautiful concentrated pink color. Fresh strawberries, lemon zest and limestone on the nose, fresh strawberries and lemon zest on the palate, vibrant acidity, very balanced, medium finish – a perfectly refreshing wine for the hot summer day. This wine creates a feeling of a calm and relaxation, it is like a lazy summer day (Saturday!) distilled in the glass. (Drinkability: 8-/8) I have to add that I love the festive label, and of course the wine has an amazing QPR at $12.99/1L bottle.

The second wine was even more interesting – NV Paul Mas Cote Mas Cremant de Limoux Brut Rose, Languedoc-Roussillon, France ($18.99 SRP, 12% ABV, 70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin, 10% Pinot Noir). This sparkling wine comes form the cradle of the sparkling wines winemaking – St. Hilaire, which claims to start production of sparkling wines in 1531. Well, this is not a subject of this post – the wine itself was outstanding though. Beautiful salmon pink color, touch of yeast and toasty bread on the nose. Perfectly present toasty bread on the palate, clean acidity, light creaminess. Right from the fridge shows very astringent. As the wine breathes and warms up in the glass, it shows more minerality while staying very dry. Drinkability: 8-

From France, let’s move two Italy – here I have two summer wines from the Banfi selection. First, NV Maschio Prosecco Brut Treviso DOC (SRP $13, 11% ABV, 100% Glera)- nice, clean nose of white peach. Palate restrained and quite dry, with touch of peach, light creaminess, very refreshing overall. The wine complemented well spicy food as well as chocolate dessert. Drinkability: 7+

Next wine – 2013 Fontana Candida Terre dei Grifi Frascati DOC (SRP $13, 13% ABV, 50% Malvasia Bianca di Candia, 30% Trebbiano Toscano, 10% Greco, 10% Malvasia del Lazio) – on the nose, touch of candied fruit, white flowers, touch of lemon, overall very pleasant. On the palate, lemon, candied lemon peel, touch of tropical fruit, good acidity, medium-long finish. Drinkability: 7

Continuing our European tour, we are now arriving to Spain. First up – delicious sparkling wine – NV Anna de Codorniu Brut Rosé Penedes DO (SRP $14.99, 12% ABV, 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay). This Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine produced by the same method as Champagne, has very interesting story behind it. Anna was a name of the heiress of the Codorniu winemaking family which started making wines in 1551. In 1659 Anna married winemaker Miguel Raventós, and their direct descendant José Raventós was the first to commercially produce Cava in 1872 using méthode traditionelle. The wine itself was excellent – fresh, slightly yeasty nose, fine mousse, firm on the palate with crisp acidity and touch of strawberries. This wine would make a perfect sip any time, summer day or not. Drinkability: 8-

Next wine is another Spanish classic – 2014 CVNE Monopole Rioja (SRP $14.99, 12.5% ABV, 100% Viura). Monopole was the oldest white wine from Rioja, starting from 1915. The wine has dry and pleasant nose, with a hint of white fruit. On the palate – touch of the white stone fruit, lemon, and crisp and bright acidity. This wine needs time to fully develop in the bottle, so if you have some space in the cellar, throw a few bottles in and forget it for the next 5 years or even longer. Drinkability: 7+

Another wine from CVNE, which was a first time experience for me – 2014 CVNE Viña Real Rosado Rioja (SRP $13.99, 12.5% ABV, 85% Viura, 15% Tempranillo). The wine was perfectly Provençal in style – hint of strawberries on the nose, dry, crisp and restrained on the palate, steely acidity combined with firm structure, light but noticeably present wine. The wine would perfectly fit any hot summer day (and not so hot too). Drinkability: 7+/8-

Old York Cellars Pinot GrisI have one last wine to present to you. This time, we are crossing Atlantic ocean and arriving at New Jersey. Yes, New Jersey makes wines, and I wrote about them before. Today I’m bringing to your attention an excellent summer wine from the same winery – 2013 Old York Cellars Pinot Gris American Table wine, New Jersey (SRP $18, 12% ABV) – clean and crisp nose, touch of Chablis-like minerality. On the palate – restrained white fruit, crisp acidity, touch of minerality. Overall very refreshing. Drinkability: 7+/8-

And we are done here. Enjoy the summer with the glass in your hand. 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!

 

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