Paul Mas estate was founded in 1892, and over the years they have expanded their holdings in the Hérault Valley, in the Languedoc region in the south of France. They now have 2400 acres under vines. Jean-Claude Mas is in charge these days. He is a fourth generation winemaker who helped his father and grandfather at the age of three. All three of the wines tasted here are from the Paul Mas Estate Single Vineyard Collection, and all three exhibit the characteristics of their unique terroirs.
This unoaked, 100% Chardonnay retails for $14 and carries a 13.5% abv number. The grapes hail from Mas's Saint Hilaire Vineyard near Limoux, in the foothills of the Pyrénées mountains.
It's a straw colored wine with a yellow-green tint and a lovely nose of subdued, sweet tropical fruit, pears and peaches. A streak of minerality runs through them all. The palate shows a fruit plate with a savory edge. Honeydew, cantaloupe, orange, green apple and pineapple flavors are laced with slate-like minerals. The acidity is not extremely bright, but there is a nice citrus zing and the sensation of wet stones that carry through the lengthy finish.
One of my favorite grapes from the south of France is Picpoul de Pinet. This beautiful white wine is 100% Picpoul from the vineyard which lies along the Etang de Thau, which is said to be famous for oysters. limestone and red soils. It also retails for $14 and has a very manageable 13% alcohol content.
A light golden color in the glass, this crisp white shows a nose of apples and citrus, followed by flavors of the same on the palate. Minerals play a huge role in this wine, with the lemon zest riding high through the finish. The limestone soil is apparent in this wine, with the mineral sensation of wet rocks in the forefront and a wonderful salinity on the finish. Pair with shellfish or any kind of seafood - it's made for that.
This is a classic Rhône Valley blend of 35% Grenache, 35% Syrah and 30% Mourvédre. It's not, of course, from the Rhône. The grapes are grown in Les Crés Vineyard, in the pebbly soil of the upper Hérault Valley, protected by the Cévennes mountains. Twenty percent of the wine was aged in oak barrels for six months. It retails for only $16 and has an alcohol content of 14%.
The wine plays its fruit against its funk, although I use the term "funk" mainly in an alliterative sense. The nose is half devoted to dark berries and half to a delicious savory aspect. The palate has blackberries and black olives dominating the flavor profile, with the savory tastes edging in front of the fruit. The three elements contribute equally here - fruity Grenache, spicy Syrah and dark Mourvèdre. It's a wine that will pair wonderfully with red meat or sharp cheeses.
As good as the Paul Mas Chardonnay is, it is overshadowed by the edgy Picpoul de Pinet and the savory G.S.M. All three wines deliver a ton of quality at an easy-to-swallow price, and the whites are especially perfect for the season as the weather turns warmer.
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