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Mas des Dames

Mas des Dames translates as Farm of Ladies. It was christened by curre...

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Mas des Dames Winery Image
Mas des Dames translates as Farm of Ladies. It was christened by current owner Lidewij van Wilgen of Holland upon learning that her three young daughters were the third generation of daughters to be raised on the Mas in recent memory (the farm dates from 1750). Lidewij—Lee to us—abandoned a world of advertising in Amsterdam in favor of the French countryside in 2002. It was an idyllic dream, one she put into play.

The criteria were simple: a small farm with vineyards in walking distance. She found Mas des Dames tucked back on a flank of a hill outside of Murviel-lès-Béziers. Murviel is a forgotten medieval village with narrow, circular streets spreading concentrically outward, and it sits on a point of high ground in the hinterland behind the ancient Mediterranean city of Béziers. The Mas was perfect, and altogether traditional with small vineyard plots planted on contours as they had been since God-knows-when. The only problem was that the house was in shambles and the vineyards were farmed for maximum production. A period of renovation ensued while Lee went to enology school in Béziers. The schooling wasn’t a cakewalk. In the first week, the professor openly mocked her as a ne’er-do-well foreigner who wouldn’t last. In the end, only three students out of thirty graduated, and she was one of those three.

Today, the girls go to the local school, and Lee works the vineyards with one employee. Beginning with the 2008 harvest, she has worked organically. On her hillside she has 22 vineyard parcels surrounding the house, comprising 32 acres. This hillside forms one side of a small valley with its own watershed, and her slope is exposed to the north wind. Thus the vines are rarely stressed for water, and the winds retard mildew pressure as well as over-ripening. The vineyard parcels themselves mostly face east; some more westerly; and a couple face northernly. She has taken yields down to less than 40 hectoliters per hectare (AOC regulations permit 50 hl/ha for red and rosé, and 60hl/ha for white; Vin de Pays rules allow up to 80 hl/ha). She kept the old winery—an old stone barn—and invested in a state-of-the art press and sorting table, plus she bought a handful of new concrete tanks. She is serious about sorting, discarding a significant portion of grapes in the more problematic years. Lastly, she sells off nearly all of her press wine to négociants, not wanting to impart any bitter tannin into the wine she puts into bottle. This disregard for quantity has scandalized many a local farmer, but it is fundamentally why Mas des Dames has propelled itself into the top rank of Languedoc producers.

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  • Mas des Dames La Dame 2012 Front Label
    Mas des Dames La Dame 2012
    Rhone Red Blends from Languedoc, South of France, France
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    • Mas des Dames La Dame 2009 Front Label
      Mas des Dames La Dame 2009
      Rhone Red Blends from Languedoc, South of France, France
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        12 99
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      • Mas des Dames La Dame 2013 Front Label
        Mas des Dames La Dame 2013
        Rhone Red Blends from Languedoc, South of France, France
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          15 99
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        • Mas des Dames La Dame 2010 Front Label
          Mas des Dames La Dame 2010
          Rhone Red Blends from Languedoc, South of France, France
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            Currently Unavailable $21.00
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          • Mas des Dames La Dame 2011 Front Label
            Mas des Dames La Dame 2011
            Rhone Red Blends from Languedoc, South of France, France
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              Currently Unavailable $13.99
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              13 99
              13 99
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