Mas Janeil Le Petit Pas Rouge 2014
Blend: 55% Grenache Noir, 22% Syrah, 18% Carignan, 5% Mourvedre
Francois Lurton is the fifth generation of his family to be in the wine business in France, as their winemaking roots date back to 1897. Francois started out as Marketing Director of his father's wine company, Andre Lurton in 1985 and moved on to found his own consulting firm with his brother Jacques in 1988. They were endlessly on the search around the world for unique vineyards and terroirs to produce the best possible wine for their customers, which earned them the moniker of the first "flying winemakers." In 2007 they restructured the company and François became the majority shareholder enabling him to work more closely to the winemaking process (both in the vineyards and the cellar) to ensure that the highest level of quality is always delivered.
Mas Janeil landed on Francois' and Jacques' radar in 1996 when they became enamored with the Vallee de l'Agly and its breathtaking landscape prompting them to rent the estate. In 2008 Francois officially purchased Mas Janeil, constructed a new wine storehouse and partially revamped an old irrigation system. Mas Janeil is 59 acres and situated in the commune of Maury in the Roussilon region at the base of a cliff which harbors Chateau de Queribus (Cathar Castle). The estate overlaps a geological fault which allows for an array of different soil types including, schist, granite, limestone and shale. Les Hauts de Janeil selections are made with the same philosophy in mind as the estate Mas Janeil wines but are meant for earlier consumption and crafted with grapes from both the Mas Janeil and neighboring vineyards which are closer to the coast.
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 bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, red Rhône blends originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley. Grenache, supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre typically form the base of the blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. With some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in Priorat, Washington, Australia and California.
Tasting Notes for Rhône Blends
A Rhône blend is a dry, red wine and will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit and a plush texture. Syrah supplies dark fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy and earthy notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume and earthy flavor as well as structure and a healthy dose of color. New World examples tend to be fruit-forward in style, while those from the Old World will often have more earth, structure and herbal components on top of ripe red and blue fruit.
Perfect Food Pairings for Rhône Blends
Rhône Blends work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes, playing equally well with beef, pork, lamb or game. Braised beef cheeks, grilled steak or sausages, roasted pork and squab are all fine pairings.
Sommelier Secrets for Rhône Blends
Some regions like to put their own local spin on the red Rhône blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.