Paul Mas Estate Single Vineyard Carignan ($12.99)
From the producer:
"Jean-Claude Mas, independent winemaker, fourth generation grape grower, first generation winemaker and owner of Domaines Paul Mas, is a leader in fine winemaking in the Languedoc region of the South of France. Since taking the helm of the family winery in 2000, he has prioritized sourcing the highest quality grapes from twelve privately owned estates and premier growers in the Languedoc to make wines of authenticity and refinement. The result is a collection of magnificently charming wines that burst forward with the warmth and stunning beauty of the Languedoc. Named after the original Mas family home, Château Paul Mas and Paul Mas Estate wines showcase the terroir, complexity and style of Languedoc estate superior winemaking.
VARIETAL COMPOSITION 100% Carignan
WINEMAKING & VINTAGE NOTES Located on the hillsides of the Hérault overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the Savignac vineyard is the ideal growing location for Carignan grapes. These mature vines, some over 50 years old, have reached a perfect natural balance.
TASTING NOTES Intense deep purple color with ruby red tints. At first you smell spices and blackberry on the nose, the second nose develops underwood and cocoa aromas finishing on toasted oak notes. Full bodied rich and mellow with velvety tannins. Complex flavors on the middle palate, licorice flavors on the finish. Long lasting. Best served at 63°F. Will go well with meat pies, game and grilled red meat, beef stews, medium flavored and hard cheeses."
Paul Mas is a prolific wine producer, and some of their offerings are bigger production than I ordinarily prefer for this store. On the other hand, despite the size of the operation, the quality is high and the value is excellent. This wine is one of the smaller lots, and is meant to express terroir and to demonstrate the skill of the winemaker. Carignan is, historically, a blending grape that originated in Spain, and came to France through the Algerian wine market. Now it's found around the Mediterranean and in California, but it's still rare to see a varietal wine made from it. This particular example is well blended between juice that's been aged in oak and steel, and the result is a smooth wine with a bold flavor.
Broadside Margarita Vineyard Merlot ($15.99)
Paso Robles, California
From the producer:
"Broadside produces wines focused on purity and true varietal expression. We favor balance and simplicity, giving consumers a window to the promise of the central coast and varietal character.. Our winemaking employs a natural approach in that our wines are minimally handled to best express the grape, site and vintage. We harvest at lower sugars and use little to no new oak to create wines of balance and finesse that make sense on the dinner table.
Vineyard Sourcing: Sourced from sustainably farmed, SIP [Sustainability in Practice] certified vineyards in San Luis Obispo County (Margarita Vineyard within the Santa Margarita Ranch AVA)
Winemaker Notes: A wet winter helped fill up reservoirs and bring new life to cover crops, then to the vines. Even temperatures throughout the growing season wrapped up in an earlier than average harvest.
Maturation: 14 months in French Oak
Tasting Notes: Vivid ruby. Cherry, cassis and succulent herbs on the fragrant nose, joined by a slowly building tobacco nuance. Plush and supple in texture, showing good depth to the lively bitter cherry and black currant flavors. A smoky note appears on the finish with velvety tannins and lingering dark berry character."
This is a big wine with bold flavor, but not made without care for the expression of the grape. Merlot is emerging from a couple of decades of perceived disfavor, and this is a nice example of why you shouldn't dismiss the grape. The winemaker's hand tends toward low intervention and elegant strength in the wine. Furthermore, the winery is dedicated to sustainable practices from vine to bottle, and their co-founder and vineyard manager, Stephanie Terrizzi, is active in the push toward "bio-organic viticulture" in the area. I'm very pleased to add this to the shop.