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Claude Val Blanc Classique 2016
Jean-Claude Mas was born in a winemaking environment in the Languedoc, in Pezenas. At the age of 3, during harvest, he escaped from his mother and ran 2.5 km to meet his grandfather in the cellar. This was a moment that he never forgot, when his interest and passion for wine was born.
At school and later at university, he studied economics and advertisement, and wine was only a hobby. No matter where he lived, he was always involved in wine: in the North of France, he created a wine club, then in Englanc, he set up a small import company for organic wines, then in Miami he worked in the consulate to develop the import and distribution of French food & wine products.
In his professional life, he devoted the first 3 years of his career to his second passion: car and moto races, but not after long, he came back to his first love: wine.
At the beginning of the 1990s, he worked 4 years in Bordeaux. This experience in the wine world was determining, as he had his encounter with one of the most famous Italian winemakers, Giorgio Grai, in 1992. He taught him the art of blending and how to create wines with style. This teaching process has in fact never stopped.
In 1995, he did his first blendings for the family at Nicole Estate. Jean-Claude Mas is often described as a pioneer from the New Languedoc, belonging to the New wave of French wines, one who is on a mission to give back Languedoc its former glory in a region where wine production goes back to more than 2000 years.
An extensive appellation producing a diverse selection of good-quality and value-priced wines, Languedoc-Roussillon is one of the world’s largest wine-producing region, spanning the Mediterranean coast from the Spanish border to Rhône. Languedoc forms the eastern half of the larger appellation, while Roussillon is in the west; the two actually have quite distinct personalities but are typically grouped together. Languedoc’s terrain is generally flat coastal plains, with a warm Mediterranean climate and a frequent risk of drought. Roussillon, on the other hand, is defined by the rugged Pyrenees mountains and near-constant sunshine.
Virtually every style of wine is made in this expansive region. Dry wines are often blends, and varietal choice is strongly influenced by the neighboring Rhône Valley. For reds and rosés, the primary grapes include Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre. White varieties include Grenache Blanc, Muscat, Ugni Blanc, Vermentino, Maccabéo, Clairette, Piquepoul and Bourbelenc.
International varieties are also planted in large numbers here, in particular Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In Roussillon, excellent sweet wines are made from Muscat and Grenache in Rivesaltes, Banyuls and Maury. The key region for sparkling wines here is Limoux, where Blanquette de Limoux is believed to have been the first sparkling wine made in France, even before Champagne. Crémant de Limoux is produced in a more modern style.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.