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Posted by Robert Whitley on April 11, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Winery of the Year Paul Mas

One of the objectives on my recent nearly month-long trip to France was to pay a visit to the 2013 Sommelier Challenge Winery of the Year, Domaines Paul Mas.

Paul Mas is a relatively new winemaking operation launched in 1982 by Jean-Claude Mas, a bit of a Great Gatsby character in that he's charming, erudite, loves fast cars (he once dreamed of being a Formula One driver) and American jazz and blues.

Jean-Claude is the man behind the Arrogant Frog brand, too. But it's the top-notch reds and whites from the various domains he has acquired in recent years that caught my attention at the Sommelier Challenge. Four of them were awarded platinum medals and Domaines Paul Mas was an easy pick as Winery of the Year.

One of my personal favorites from the portfolio is the Cremant de Limoux rose under the Cote Mas label. The property in Limoux was purchased in 2011, so it's just now beginning to make its mark under the Domaines Paul Mas umbrella.

Like most of the top properties in the Languedoc, Domaines Paul Mas has exceptional vineyards. The quality of the vineyards in this region was a well-kept secret for several decades after World War II, for the best grapes invariably ended up going to co-operatives, where the quality was diluted.

Jean-Claude Mas is at the forefront of a renaissance in the area, taking advantage of the beautiful terroir the Languedoc affords Syrah, Carignan, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Grenache and so on.

Paul Mas produced a short video after winning Winery of the Year at the Sommelier Challenge. It showcases the region and the vineyards, and some of the history, such as the Canal du Midi and the walled city of Carcassonne.

Click here to view the video.

Rocca delle Macie, Toscana IGT (Italy) Sangiovese Syrah 'Sasyr' 2011 ($17, Palm Bay International)
This interesting and unusual blend from Rocca delle Macie demonstrates a surprising synergy between Sangiovese, the indigenous red grape of the region, and Syrah, the international grape variety that has only been planted in recent years. The Syrah delivers structure in the form of firm tannins, and a delicious blackberry note that complements the earthy, dried cherry aroma of the native Sangiovese. Purists may well cringe, but this is a serious red from Tuscany that is well worth a look, and the price is sensational given the quality.  Platinum award winner at the 2014 San Diego International Wine Competition.
93 Robert Whitley

Dr. Michael
This Issue's Reviews
When In Beaune
Robert Whitley

BEAUNE, France - Inside the largely intact ramparts of this relatively sleepy village of 20,000, there are four restaurants with at least one Michelin star. Outside the city walls there are several more. The center of the village, around Place Carnot, is lined with shops pedaling gourmet food products, as well as the latest fashions from Paris, a couple of hours to the north. From early spring through the annual Hospices de Beaune wine auction in late November, the cobblestone streets are clogged with tourists, particularly on Saturday, which is market day. On most weekends in the high season, hotel and restaurant reservations are a must.
High Level Wine
Marguerite Thomas

Here's a mini quiz for you: Which country can boast the highest vineyards in the world? Yes, Switzerland, where terraced vineyards range from 2132 to 3772 feet above sea level, is a pretty good guess, but it's the wrong guess. In fact Switzerland can't even lay claim to the highest vineyard in Europe. That distinction goes to Spain, more specifically to Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands. On Tenerife, vines are cultivated on the volcanic slopes of El Teide at more than 5000 feet above sea level. (To put this in perspective, consider that Napa's mountain vineyards tend to max out at around 3000 feet.)
Wine With
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Pasta is an obvious (and one of our favorite) go-to last minute weeknight dinners, but much as we love marinara, pesto, aglio e olio, Alfredo and all the other classics, every now and then we yearn for something a little different. With that in mind we decided to reinterpret a pasta dish we'd recently enjoyed at Hersh's (our local pizza and pasta provider), which featured fettuccine with pistachios in the starring role. Our version lacked the delicate lusciousness of Hersh's homemade fettuccine; but even though we relied on dried supermarket pasta, the results were simply delicious, and it was definitely not the same-old-same-old.
On My Table
Time-Tripping Into New York's Wine History
Mary Ewing-Mulligan

Two of the compelling attractions of wine, for me, have to do with time. Older wines enable us to feel that we are experiencing the past. Paradoxically, wine is eternally new, each year bringing new harvests and fresh, new vintages. Occasionally time collapses: We taste a thoroughly new wine that evokes a strong sense of history. The moment that I saw the label of this Riesling I recognized it, as I would recognize a depiction of Abraham Lincoln. It is the iconic label of an historic winery, bearing the signature of a winemaker who was pivotal in the development of New York State as a fine wine region. But this nostalgic label carries the vintage 2012 -- now. The wine is a fresh rendition created to honor history.