This week, I take a slight departure from my “typical” Random Samples post to touch on a few wines from Southwest France behemoth, Les Domaines Paul Mas. The Mas family has owned vineyards in the Languedoc for well over a century, but it was Jean-Claude Mas who really created the empire over the last few decades. What started as a 22 acre vineyard in 1892, has grown to over 1700 acres owned and another 3500 acres under contract. Managing 11 different estates and growing 45 different varieties is no small feat, yet somehow, Jean-Claude Mas found the time to join me and a few other writers on a Zoom call to taste through just a few of the wines he produces.
NV Côté Mas Crémant de Limoux Brut, France: Retail $16. 60% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc, 10% Pinot Noir, 10% Malzac. Traditional method. I tasted this with Jean-Claude Mas via Zoom and I was impressed. Bright zesty fruit on the nose with a considerable creamy/yeasty component (3 years on the lees) and a hint of minerality. The palate is driven from start to finish by the near-bracing acidity but the fruit peaks through on the mid-palate and brightens it up quite a bit. For the tariff? This is close to a no-brainer. Very Good. 88 Points.
NV Côté Mas Crémant de Limoux Brut Rosé, France: Retail $16. 70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc, 10% Pinot Noir. I would say this is an “average” bubblegum-pink color in the glass, with an active sparkle of particularly tiny bubbles. Plenty of red berry fruit (strawberry, cherry) and a touch of minerality on the nose, but this is full-on fruit on the palate–bright, tart, fresh, this is a delight and in search of a pool. Very Good. 89 Points.
2019 Les Domaines Paul Mas Côté Mas Sauvignon Vermentino, Vin de Pays d’Oc, France: Retail $14. One liter. Under screw cap. B.A.B. 70% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Vermentino. A bit of a Big Ass Bottle. I was on a Zoom call with Jean-Claude Mas and I asked him about the one liter bottle and he intimated that the “sunk” cost of the bottle (glass, closure, label) is the same for a half bottle, a 750ml, or a liter bottle, so he went big. Glad he did! A delightful blend of two varieties that, surprisingly, you don’t see blended together all that often. Light straw in the glass with bright tropical fruit, a hint of nuttiness, and just a kiss of flintiness on the nose. The palate is round and full with the Vermentino (although in the decided minority) seemingly driving the bus. Great fruit, moderate acidity, a fun quaff and an extra couple of glasses in this liter bottle. Very Good. 88 Points.
2020 Les Domaines Paul Mas Vin de Pays d’Oc Côté Mas Aurore, France: Retail $15. One liter. Under screw cap. B.A.B. 50% Grenache Noir, 30% Cinsault, 20% Syrah. Gorgeous light salmon color with aromas of watermelon, cherry, strawberry in the glass–exactly what you imagine when you think of a rosé from the South of France. The palate is more of the same: fruity (but not overly so), zingy, zesty, and tart, this is an extremely quaffable pink that has an extra couple of glasses just for grins (but be careful, at 14.2% alcohol, it can catch up to you pretty quickly). Very Good. 88 Points.
2019 Les Domaines Paul Mas Côté Mas Syrah Grenache, Vin de Pays d’Oc, France: Retail $15. One liter. Under screw cap. B.A.B. 70% Syrah, 30% Grenache. Another extremely fun wine from Jean-Claude Mas with dark fruit aromas, just a hint of earth, and some black pepper ooze out of this medium-dark wine. The palate is pretty darned enjoyable with bright fruit up front, balancing acidity, and just enough gravitas to encourage you to save it for dinner (although no one would fault you if you polished this puppy off on the back porch). Pro tip: plop this in the fridge for a quick thirty minutes. Very Good. 89 Points.