Wine Offerings: Post

The Modern and Traditional Red Wines of France’s Deep South

Stop by for a taste of Mas Amiel Maury that was aged in cask for a minimum of 20 years. We’ll also be pouring their inexpensive, dry, and earthy 2014 Côtes du Roussillon, cuvée “Vertigo”.

Mas Amiel is located in the Agly valley, in France’s Roussillon region. This is a land of sunshine (over 300 days per year) and schist soils that give the region’s wines a fresh touch. Since being purchased by Olivier Decelle in 1999, Mas Amiel has seen extensive renovation of their 400+ acres of centuries old vineyards, started using biodynamic farming practices, and have expanded the range of wines they offer.

Yields at Mas Amiel are quite small, ranging from 10–22 hectoliters/hectare, allowing for wines with greater depth and concentration. At harvest time, young and talented winemaker Nicolas Raffy will work with the vineyard manager to establish when each parcel is ready to be picked, ensuring the fruit has reached peak ripeness. Today, Mas Amiel is recognized as one of the top producers of both sweet and dry Roussillon wines.

The heart of the Mas Amiel range is formed by the traditional sweet fortified wines (Vins Doux Naturels). The Maury type is made by allowing fermentation to start, but then stopping it by adding alcohol, which kills the yeasts and leaves natural sugar in the wine, similar to Port production. Then comes the stage unique to Maury: the wine is placed into glass “bonbonne” demi-johns and left outside for a year. This is called Rancio and it causes an intentional oxidation. After that it goes into large oak casks, where it ages over many years. The result is a medium to full-bodied sweet wine loaded with notes of herb, figs, licorice, leather, and caramel, with a fresh acidity to balance out all those complex flavors. It’s a natural pairing for liver pâté, cured duck breast, and strong blue cheese.

We have the 100% Grenache non-vintage Maury 20 year (~$44). It’s a cask selection with the youngest cask being 20 years in age. We also have a few bottles of the 1985 vintage Maury (~$62). It’s made in the same way as the 20 year but the wine comes from a superb single vintage. If you think the 20 year is full-flavored, the vintage is bound to astonish.

Although production is still majority sweet wines, since purchasing the estate Olivier Decelle has put a focus on creating dry wines that emphasize the terroir of Roussillon. 2014 Cuvée “Vertigo” (~$16) is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan elaborated from a selection of young parcels and raised in concrete vats to preserve its fresh fruit characteristics and it’s peppery, violet and blue fruit aromatics. In it you can taste the dry, rugged terrain of Mediterranean France.

Check out Mas Amiel’s website for more insight into their operation (plus pretty pictures).

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Posted on 2016.01.13 in France, Saturday Sips Wines, Languedoc-Roussillon


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