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Mas Amiel Millesime 1985
In order to create this wine, the grapes are manually harvested and de-stemmed. Extra alcohol is added (mutage) directly on the fruit, and then the whole is allowed to steep for 30 days in order to extract the aromas and polyphenols from the grapes, ensuring a nice balance of fruit, alcohol and sugar. The wine is aged for one year in glass demijohns outside, since then in 350-hectolitre oak casks.
Blend: 90% Black Grenache, 5% Carignan, 5% Maccabeu
Situated at the foot of the Pyrenees, the 170 hectares of vines at Mas Amiel are divided into 130 parcels, extending throughout the heart of the scrubland, wild plants and shrubs. When Olivier Decelle discovered this exceptional location in 1999, he decided to set the objective of making great wines.
Mas Amiel has always produced highly regarded sweet wines. The aim has been that of improving upon the vineyard’s standard of quality to establish Mas Amiel as an internationally renowned wine estate. The other challenge has been that of creating great dry wines in a region that decided to limit its production in the 1950s. But its great terroir is still present. Mas Amiel’s strength resides in the richness and diversity of its terroir.
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.
End a great meal on a sweet note, dessert and fortified wines come in an impressive array of styles and sweetness levels. Many wines in this category—including Port, Sherry, and Madeira—are fortified with neutral spirits to increase the level of alcohol, and, depending on the final style of wine desired, often to arrest fermentation while some (or a lot of) residual sugar remains. Others, like Sauternes and Tokaji, are produced by leaving the grapes on the vine long after the rest of the harvest has been processed in order to accumulate very high sugar levels. Often, a form of “noble” rot called botrytis plays a role, desiccating the grape until only the very flavorful solids and sugars remain. These late-picked wines are, accordingly, often referred to as late-harvest wines. In colder climates, the grapes may be allowed to freeze on the vine for the production of ice wine.