Jean-Claude Mas: The story of a winemaker and my washing machine

Domaines Paul Mas vineyards Jean-Claude Mas

Oh no! That feeling when the jeans are in the wash and halfway through the cycle you think – the pockets!! It wasn’t money I was worried about, or a cherished photograph, but a clutch of herbs from the Languedoc in the south of France. They’d been tugged off a cluster of bushes on the edges of a vineyard by one of today’s most successful winemakers, Jean-Claude Mas. 

The herbs represented so much. The enthusiasm of Jean-Claude Mas for his surroundings; his love for the land and the impact of the land on his wines. Jean-Claude was taking a group of us on a tour of his vineyards in a rip-roaring buggy ride, pointing out viognier, chardonnay, grenache gris and many many more grape varieties.

We stopped on a hill and he handed me the herbs; I scrunched them and could smell the amazing “garrigue” of the landscape – wild plants from the hills in this part of the Mediterranean.


Jean-Claude Mas: A drive through the vineyards – VIDEO

 


Red wines can be described as having a “garrigue” influence – and right there in that place I understood. It’s like a pot-pourri of aromas, of earth, of greenery, of vegetation. I tucked the herbs in my pocket to await their fate with a washing powder tablet.

Jean-Claude Mas more than understands the wine alchemy he can create from his land. He has the Midas touch for producing great-value wines under his brand Domaines Paul Mas.

He began with 35 hectares of inherited land from his father (Paul Mas) in 2000 and only 18 years later he has 13 estates – the 13th acquisition confirmed as I sat in his tasting room sipping wines available in the UK (Aldi, Waitrose, Morrisons, Co-op and Majestic are just several stockists).

Jean-Claude knows what his customers want. He told us: “The past has no interest to me; I’m always looking to the future. Yes of course, we can learn from the past to be sure, but to be static is crazy. We are always forward-thinking.”

He is definitely a driven man, spotting the opportunities in the market and yet at the same time developing an ethos of sustainability, with the health of the vines, within an organic viticulture culture, paramount.  He believes that “with a living soil, the vine grows better, and the wines are better still”.

His enthusiasm is magnetic, his philosophy is admirable. His wines are bloody good too … more of them in another blog post.

PS  The herbs emerged from the washing. They’re my scrunched-up (and now very clean) memory of the Languedoc.


Discover more about Domaines Paul Mas here and follow them on Twitter here


COMING IN PART TWO:
I asked Jean-Claude Mas to select two of his wines he’d personally want to sip at home; here’s a picture teaser.
Jean Claude Mas Cote Mas red wine

International Wine Challenge success for UK supermarkets

International Wine Challenge awards

THE UK’s supermarkets have really upped their game in the past year when it comes to their own-brand wines. Many have excelled in the 2015 International Wine Challenge Awards.

Top of the awards pile is Marks & Spencer, which won 169 medals, including 12 gold, 52 silver and 105 bronze.

In all, 498 own-brand and exclusive supermarket wines received medals, which is 138 more than last year. Wines created for Aldi, Asda, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, The Co-operative and Waitrose all picked up gold medals, with 33 being awarded to supermarket wines.

Mount Bluff sparkling brut review
Mount Bluff sparkling brut

Marks & Spencer Mount Bluff NV Sparkling Chardonnay struck gold … and it’s just £13. World-famous sherry producer Emilio Lustau created Marks & Spencer Very Rare Dry Oloroso NV and Marks & Spencer Dry Old Palo Cortado NV (both £8 per half-bottle) – and both now glisten with a golden honour.

Aldi won Gold with The Exquisite Collection Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (£7.99) and The Exquisite Collection Clare Valley Riesling 2014 (£6.99). (They also picked up eight silver and 18 bronze medals.)

Over at Tesco, five gold medals were claimed, including Tesco finest* Vintage Grand Cru Champagne 2007 (£24.99); Finest Chablis 2013 (£9.99) and the Finest Sancerre 2013 (£11.99)

Three wines created exclusively for Waitrose were also awarded Gold medals; New Zealand’s Craggy Range Te Muna Road Pinot Noir 2013 (£22.99). Polish Hill River Riesling 2008 (RRP £8.99) and Tre Fiori Greco Di Tufo 2013 (RRP £10.99).

The Co-op picked up a gold for its Château Roumieu 2012 (£11.99) as well as four silver and 17 bronze medals. Sainsbury’s £20 Blanc de Blanc Champagne Brut NV also won gold, as did its Taste the Difference Pedro Ximenez Sherry NV (£8).

International Wine Challenge
Charles Metcalfe

Charles Metcalfe, Co-Chairman of the IWC said: “Year on year, supermarket own-brand ranges continue to improve and impress the IWC judges.

“Shoppers really are spoiled for choice in the wine aisles, with medal winners to be found in all major supermarket chains. Supermarket buyers have demonstrated their talent for sourcing fantastic wines from all around the world, usually at pretty keen prices.”

Find all the winners at www.internationalwinechallenge.com


In my glass …

I tried a trio of wines from thirty-something French brothers Nicolas and Arnaud Bergasse of Château Viranel, in the sun-soaked Languedoc and very nice they were too. (Available online from Berry Bros & Rudd, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Gerard Seel and Bancroft Wines.)

Château Viranel Trilogie rosé wine review
Château Viranel Trilogie rosé

Château Viranel Viognier 2014 (RRP £11.70) has delicate apricot aromas, a tiny speckle of pepper on the nose, freshened by a summer breeze. Lemon and stone fruit to taste, with a little bit of waxiness. Château Viranel Trilogie rosé (RRP £9.70) is a blend of (a third each) syrah, cinsault, and cabernet sauvignon. Rosé flavours can be a bit “so what”, but the Bergasse brothers have created a pink which is floral, packed with summer fruits and dried strawberries, and with a bright but elegant finish.

Château Viranel Trilogie Rouge 2014 (RRP £10.05) uses a grape variety I’ve not come across before, alicante bouschet, which is blended with syrah and cabernet franc. There are plums, veiled with violets, a fleck of spices – perhaps a string of liquorice too. An easy, fruit-dip of a glass.

Published in the saturday extra magazine May 16, 2015

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