I was invited to a tasting which was designed to show off the relatively new cru of Pézenas, and also to launch the wine that has been dreamt up by Jean-Claude Mas, a collective communal cuvée, to which several of the growers of Pézenas have contributed wine. It is called Coté Mas, which is also the name of the restaurant outside Montagnac that showcases the Domaines Mas wines. I am not really sure of the purpose of the communal cuvée, or whether it fulfilled its promise. Altogether 42 producers have participated and the first vintage was 2012. At this tasting the 2013 was on offer. Coté Mas certainly provides an opportunity for Jean-Claude Mas to exercise his not inconsiderable talent as a marketeer. However, the wine did not have the same appeal to my taste buds as several of the wines from the smaller, independent wine growers. I found the oak very perfumed, with a dry palate. A second taste of another bottle was curiously sweet and sour, and a third bottle ( I did keep trying) was best of all, more balanced with some fresh spice. I was concerned by the bottle variation. It must also be said that tasting conditions were not ideal, as we were outside in front of the tourist office in Pézenas on quite a windy day. Nor was there a tasting sheet, so in some instances I failed to note the vintage or blend of grape varieties for some of the other wines.
One of the problems of Pézenas is that it really does not have a specific identity, unlike Faugères with its schist, or the Pic St. Loup with its distinctive peak, or the virtual island of la Clape. It is quite simply an amalgam of villages around Pézenas, including Caux, Nizas, Magalas, Gabian, and others and the grape varieties are the usual Languedoc quintet. There is no white Pézenas, nor indeed rosé. The cru was recognized in 2007, for the 2006 vintage. .
Highlights at the tasting included:
A spicy Clos des Lièvres from Mas Gabriel
Domaine de Monplézy, with Plaisirs and Felicité; one oaked and one rich and warming.
Domaine la Grange was offering Castalides, with some rich Syrah.
Domaine Nizas. La Réserve 2010 is half and half Mourvèdre and old Carignan, with a little Grenache. It was quite rich and powerful
Domaine Magellan, a blend of equal parts of Syrah and Grenache, which was nicely rounded and balanced.
The joint coops of Alignan and Neffiès have a rounded supple wine, and la Marquise, a wine from the Pézenas had some soft easy fruit with a tannic streak. Prince de Conti was firmer and sturdier, and Don Juan displayed some ripe oak. The Pézenas coop is clearly working well for its cru. The Fontès coop was doing well too, with Latude, a 90% Syrah, 10% Grenache blend, with some rich fruit and a tannic streak.
Domaine Stella Nova was showing three wines of which I really liked Quid Novi 2011, which is Carignan with a little Grenache. It had some rustic red berry fruit and a smoky note. Very characterful
My friend Christine from Domaine Ste Cécile du Parc was showing her Notes d’Orphée, which is mainly Syrah with some dense ripe fruit and cedary note and she had also included her Cabernet Franc, Notes Franches, even though it is not Pézenas. Lovely fruit with some supple tannins and a fleshy note. Sonatina from her oldest vines is quite firm and structured.
2011 Cousu Main from Allegria is only available in magnums, a blend of 60% Mourvèdre and 40% Syrah, which was still quite tannic and youthful.
La Croix Vanel, Fine Amor 2013 has some fresh fruit, and benefited from no oak. Ma non troppo is 93% Mourvèdre, with some firm smoky fruit and a fresh elegant finish. Very stylish.
Villa Tempora was showing a range of 2011s. Le Demon du Midi was quite sturdy, concentrated but with an elegant finish and some fresh fruit and l’Ange Vin was quite solid and dense and needed some bottle age. A good note on which to finish. But I really wasn’t really any the wiser as to the true character of the identité piscenoise.
And I also tasted wines from Clos Roca, Domaine Bayelle, Domaine Pech Rome and Domaine Condamine Bertrand.