East Coast Wine Trail

East Coast Wine Trail
East Coast Wine Trail

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Onwards and upwards with a quality focus for the Arrogant Frog

Former motor racing driver Jean-Claude Mas, better known as the Arrogant Frog, is a man who never slows down. 

Mas is this year celebrating 20 years as a winemaker, having taken a small family firm to global brand status with clever marketing and attentive wine-making. 

While Mas is best-known for affordable, cheap and cheerful offerings like the Arrogant Frog range, he is now aiming to lift both the quality and profile of wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the south of France. 

"My latest challenge is reinventing the wine traditions in the Languedoc and revealing the essence of the terroirs," he says.

From 17 hectares of vines in the start, Mas now controls 800 hectares of wines from 15 different estates that fall under the Domaines Paul Mas umbrella. He has the business acumen to match his dry wit and charm.

The man behind the Arrogant Frog label is helping transform the Languedoc-Roussillon - and in the process cracking several wine markets other French producers deemed too hard.

Mas, a fourth-generation vintner, has paved a new path for French winemakers, taking on the New World wines that were dominating overseas markets by adopting a fresh and fun approach to both brand and winemaking. 

That meant screw caps, fun labels and a sustainable approach in the vineyards, where yields were slashed and quality elevated. 

Winemaking knowledge in the Mas family stretches back to 1892 and covers three generations to his great-grandfather. 

The negociant-producer now makes over 22 million bottles annually, 90% exported to 65 countries but remains ambitious. 
"The region has progressed tremendously over the past 30 years but two ingredients are missing," he said in an interview with Decanter magazine. "A concise definition of what Languedoc-Roussillon is all about and a wine or wines that identify the region, like sauvignon blanc does New Zealand or malbec in Argentina.

"As a region with a palette of grape varieties the message will be communicated by a blend or blends. Whatever, we need to find the code."

Two impressive new releases have just hit Dan Murphy's stores in Australia; the 2018 Chateau Paul Mas Close des Mures, a syrah, grenache mourvedre blend from the family estate where it all began, and an organic 2018 Chateau Martinolles Vieilles Vignes Chardonnay from Limoux, a vineyard Mas acquired in 2011. 

The red is a bold, juicy number that might well be picked as a New World wine in a blind tasting; complex and powerful but with some shy Gallic charm. The chardonnay has a lovely fresh, crispness with pineapple/tropical fruit salad notes. Oak plays a mere support role.  

The red retails for $20.99 and the chardonnay for $18.99. It is also available at BWS stores. 
Images: Winsor Dobbin 

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