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Monday 23 November 2020

Major recognition for Languedoc wine pioneer

Regular readers will remember a couple of trips I have made to the Langeudoc as the guest of Jean-Claude Mas, the "Arrogant Frog" and founder and owner of Domaine Paul Mas.

Well, Domaines Paul Mas was this month named European Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast magazine in their Wine Star Awards 2020.

That's no small matter. Wine Enthusiast has a circulation of over a quarter of million. 

Jean-Claude is one of the most generous people in the wine industry, which is in his blood. He recalls escaping from his mother during harvest as a toddler, running two kilometres through the vineyard to find his grandfather in the cellar.

Based in the Languedoc region in the south of France, in the town of P├ęzenas, the Mas family has wine experience dating back to 1892. 

That’s when Mas’s great-grandfather, Auguste Mas, acquired the first plot of family vines. Subsequent generations only continued to grow the family’s vineyard holdings.

In 1987, Mas received around 45 hectares of vineyards from his father, Paul Mas, to forge his own path.

Thirteen years later, Mas founded Domaines Paul Mas, named in honor of his father. Combining his passion for his family’s history, the wines of his native region and his education in marketing and economics, he aimed to create a brand of uniquely personal yet distinctively Languedoc bottlings, while also spreading regional awareness around the globe as well as bringing the family name into a new echelon of the wine world.

“Vineyards have always been part of the Languedoc—the diversity of soil, elevation and the climatic conditions are all the elements necessary to bring to optimum maturity the grapes need while letting express their character and origin," he says.

Today, after 20 years in business, it’s clear that he succeeded in his mission. Domaines Paul Mas is now a powerhouse producer known around the world. The company’s portfolio currently boasts 15 chateaux and more than 20 brands, with a total annual production of around 22 million bottles that are distributed to 71 countries.

The family now controls over 2,400 hectates of vines. Of the family’s vineyard holdings, 60% are certified organic with the intent to be 100% organic within a couple of years.

"Basically, the biggest challenge is producing 20 million bottles with the same attention as when I started with 10,000 bottles,” he says.

“This an achievement! Especially when we consider the importance of US media. Ever since Tim Atkin recognized us in 2008, we have achieved some significant results in competition. 

"Over the past 20 years we have learned how to manage 25 different terroirs and how to vinify 45 different grape varieties, and this year we will have vinified around 20 million bottles of wine from our 2340 hectares of vineyards.

“We have our own rules when it comes to sustainable winemaking, and we’ve established several processes and relationships when it comes to working ethically and ecologically. It is a 360˚ approach.

“I’m proud to have established a new model when it comes to winemaking in France, and I’m very grateful to Wine Enthusiast for this recognition in our 20th year of existence.”

You can find several Domaines Paul Mas wines in Australia at Dan Murphy's stores - including two brand-new releases: the 2018 Chateau de Cres Ricards Oenethera, Terrasses de Larzac (a syrah-grenache blend for $29.99), and the 2019 Nature en Heritage Organic Chardonnay Pays d'Oc ($17.99). I'm tasting them tonight. 

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