Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Paul Mas Estate, Languedoc-Roussillon

Continuing the series of "Wines Beau Was Sent A Long Time Ago", this time I am exploring a producer in the Languedoc-Roussillon area of France. Long a place associated with cheap, mediocre bulk wine, there have been rumblings over the past few years that a serious uptick in quality is taking place. Granted, there has also been a concerted push by the trade group(s) and producers of the region to showcase their wines on the world stage.

Earlier this year (a familiar refrain, no?) I was sent three wines from "rural luxury" wine company Domaines Paul Mas to taste and comment on. Time, as it seems to do, slipped away and while I fully intended to open and write about these wines for summer, now the Holiday Season is upon us. I was sent three wines from the Paul Mas Estate line, which appears to be their mid to high(ish) priced label.

Despite the lateness of the year, upon tasting these wines I found them to be very suitable for the cool/cold weather and am excited at the thought of how they could pair with your Holiday feasts.

2011 Paul Mas Estate Picpoul de Pinet Coteaux du Languedoc: Opens with lemons and oranges, grass, and hints of butter. Great acidity on the palate, which helps tame the ripeness, and provides a very food-friendly angle to this wine. I really enjoyed how interesting the wine was as it gradually warmed up, showing fleshier tropical and stone fruit flavors. $11 on the East Coast. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

2011 Paul Mas Estate Chardonnay Saint Hilare Coteaux du Languedoc: Ripe notes of apple and lemon curd, rendered butter, and tart lime juice. I was struck at how balanced the aromas were. Good acidity, creating a beautifully cleansing effect on the palate. It highlights citrus and apple notes galore. Each sip left me with a smile, and the finish was nice and crisp, readying my palate for another bite. $13 nationally. Recommended.

2011 Paul Mas Estate GSM Coteau du Languedoc: My first thought was that smells like a GSM, which is a good thing. Licorice, blackberries, blueberries, and a pleasing meaty nature. The bouquet had me intrigued but unfortunately I just wasn't as excited about the palate. It's a bit soft and ripe, and could maybe use more acidity. I'm not sure if it's a function of this wine's youth or not, but this seems incomplete. That said, if you like soft, ripe, easy drinking red blends, I think will make you happy, especially at the price. $14 on the East Coast.

The two whites showed the best for me on the day I tasted them, and on the second day. They had lots of nice primary fruit, plenty of acidity, and are priced to compete. The red just wasn't that great, and I feel there are better options around the price point. One would be the 2011/2012 St. Cosme Cotes du Rhone, an incredible deal at around $15. Still, the GSM is a wine that will appeal to many palates and the crowd-pleasing style will certainly be a hit at any parties you bring a bottle to. Those whites though, they deserve some serious consideration as you plan your holiday meals.

The Paul Mas website isn't very good, but I was able to find out that this producer makes a lot of different wines from sources all over the Languedoc-Roussillon area of France. I think their packaging and message are very good and the wines are certainly of reasonable quality. Seeing the Languedoc-Roussillon area start to climb out of the shadows and more into the mainstream as a source for quality is exciting, I hope we all continue to get exposure to the wines.

These wines were media samples for review purposes.

Beau Carufel

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

24 Knots Pinot Noir from Monterey County

Yes, just a single wine in this blog entry. I was sent this sample bottle from 24 Knots winery out of Greenfield, California.

The story behind the name goes like this: During the summer, winds come off of Monterey Bay and down the Salinas Valley at speeds of up to 24 knots. At that speed, they provide an essential cooling effect for the vines, allowing acids to stay higher while the sun still helps ripen the grapes. From what I understand, all the grapes come from Viento Vineyard, which of course is in Monterey County.

Ok, this is not going to be a long blog. One wine to taste and the desire to keep my notes concise and readable.

On opening this pinot has a funky aroma, so I tried to give it some time to blow off. While I don't think it did entirely blow off, after an hour I was able to smell things other than funk. I like the raspberry/strawberry scent, and it had an interesting pine thing going on too, along with typically-pinot aromas of baking spice. I think if the funky sulfurous aroma hadn't lain atop everything else like a wet beach towel, this could have been a really fun wine.

So I tried closing the screwcap and giving it the Dirty Sommelier, aka "shaking the ever living s&#@ out of the bottle", for about 30 seconds.

In an attempt to re-approach the wine, I retrieved a new, clean wine glass and poured another few ounces. Drat! The same thing! This time I went in for a taste, to see just how much the funk obscured. Ripe berries, wood smoke, peppery spices, and funk. It permeated everything and was nigh on impossible to ignore.

If the 24 Knots Pinot Noir didn't have the funk, it would be a damn good bottle of wine. It's pretty inexpensive too, something like $15 a bottle. So in conclusion, if you like your pinot noir on the funky side, I think you'll dig this. If you prefer clean, bright berry fruit, maybe pass on this one. I tend to prefer the latter, so I can't recommend this to you.

Of note, the winery sent two bottles and I tasted the second bottle about two months later, it exhibited basically the same characteristics. Both bottles were tasted over the course of about three days.

These wines were media samples for review purposes.

Beau Carufel