Monday, 18 September 2017

Two special vineyards

As well as the vineyards I mentioned in Wines of the Languedoc we visited two special domaines: Abbaye des Monges and Domaine Paul Mas.

Abbaye des Monges is on the main road from Narbonne to Gruissan, it's actually a small hamlet consisting of a manor house, a few domestic houses, an old abbey and three gites. The gites are all in one building that is built into the hill side providing two single bedroom gites downstairs and one three bedroom gite upstairs: accessed by driving round the back giving a totally private area.

In 2002 Nick, myself, my Dad, Michael and Philippa enjoyed two weeks in the large gite; such a lovely place. Abbaye des Monges is owned by Baron Paul de Chefdebien and his wife Marie-Claude; he is a renowned vintner and Marie-Claude an architect. Whilst wine making is the main purpose they also wanted to renovate the ruined abbey. Whilst there in 2002 we were honoured to be invited to a wine tasting with their family where they opened the first bottle of their 2001 wine.

2002 - what a great holiday we had 

The back of the main gite - so relaxing, so peaceful
In 2007 whilst holidaying at Lamalou les Bains Nick, myself, Michael and Philippa re-visited the vineyard. It was so nice to see nothing had changed, it was still a beautiful place set amongst the vines. Unfortunately the Baron had been unwell but was recovering although now having to take things a little easier. Of course we had to bring home some wine although not the 2001 we had originally tasted.

This year we called by again; delighted to find Marie-Claude and Paul still working. She has renovated quite a lot of the abbey, the before and after photos were amazing. The Baron is doing well but still taking life easy. We thoroughly enjoyed a 'degustation' and long chat, reminiscing over past visits and enjoying their very good wine. This year was bought home Chateau Blanc 2015, Chateau Rouge 2014 and Abbaye des Monges Augustine 2014.

Chateau La Clape Blanc is a blend of 60% Bourboulenc, 30% Roussanne, 10% Vermentino, 10% Viognier - a lovely clean crisp citrusy nose with a palate that reflects the same with the added flavour of white peaches. A lovely smooth wine, medium bodied with a lasting finish.

Chateau La Clape Rouge is also a blend; 30% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 30% Carignan, 10% Mourvèdre - a nise of red fruits with a hint of spice. Flavour wise this wine is full of blackcurrants, raspberries with a touch of herbiness. A well balanced wine with light tannins leading to a long finish.

Abbaye des Monges Augustine 2014  is a richer, deeper wine having a little more spice; 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 20% Carignan, 10% Mourvèdre. A deeper, richer red with dark fruit, thyme and soft spices, this red has 85% developing in concrete vats and the remaining 15% in barrels. It has a long elegant finish with a touch of toastiness.

It really was a lovely visit; driving up between the vines, meeting Marie-Claude and Paul again, and of course bringing home some of our favourite wine to enjoy.

Abbaye des Monges vines 
Hubby and I have been enjoying many Paul Mas wines from Majestic Wine, we especially enjoy the Cote Mas range. The Domaine stood out amongst the fields of vines, with views of the Etang du Thau, a stunning location.

Domaine Mas' distinctive heron
Best grapes for miles
 Jean-Claude Mas's great grandfather bought the first vineyard in 1892, it's been a family business since. Although we know some of the Domaines labels we were very surprised to see such a large range varying in blends and of course price.

Claude Val is not a name we knew, I must admit I was drawn to the artwork on the bottles. We purchased a red and white, both Sud de France wines. These wines are a blend of several traditional varieties of this area, they offer great flavour at a great price. I'm looking forward to opening these. 

Claude Val 
Paul Mas 1892 is a blend of Carignan, Grenache Noir, Mourvedre and Cabernet organic wine made in honour or Jean-Claude's grandfather. It a full bodied, full flavoured red packed with ripe fruit, bringing instant memories of Southern France.   

Since 2005 Arrogant Frog has been the mascot of the domaines. 'The Humble Winemaker' with his sense of humor has taken these wines all over the world. Although Arrogant Frog is available in the UK it was unthinkable to not bring some home. Arogant FrogTutti Frutti is however a blend we have not seen, and a Chardonney-Viognier is a blend I'm keen to try.

Arrogant Frog
As mentioned before Cote Mas is a range we are familiar with, however not Frisante, and especially not a Picpoul de Pinet Frisante. This will be very interesting to open, the citrusy highlights of Picpoul de Pinet in a sparkling wine; perfect maybe with fish and chips...... we'll see.

Sparkling Picpoul de Pinet
We had a great time in the Languedoc as you can see from this and my previous post - after a few nights in Nimes we traveled north to Visan - a village we stayed in last year that nestles in the Cote du Rhone region ...... just a little more wine tasting !!

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