MARCUS BROTHERS IMPORTS
FOLLOW THE BADGER
THE WINES OF MAS DES QUERNES
LE VINE PRINT #1 — A WINE STORY
Spring is here and little green leaves spread across the country. Even though most winemakers are finishing pruning the vines and watching for bud break, no one gets too comfortable. It's still early and there's the risk of a late freeze.
Meanwhile, there's always so much to do — tilling the soil, watering young vines, bottling new vintages and presenting them to thirsty buyers at wine fairs.
Work never stops in the French wine wonderland.
Speaking of France...
...here's a quick overview on just how old and diverse this wine wonderland is!
500 BCWine first introduced by Phoenicians, Greeks, Etruscans
425 BCEarliest evidence of actual winemaking in France
1st CenturyRomans, invading from the north, introduce wine to other regions
6th CenturyThe Church further develops viticulture and wine's cultural importance
1789-1804The French Revolution & Napoleonic Code make wine more accessible to the masses
winemaking regions today
types of grapes
Thirsty yet? Well, how about...
— CHAPTER 1 —
One evening in Paris, a few years back, we were in one of our regular cave — much like this one:
A "cave" — pronounced CAV, like Cavaliers — is a wine store or cellar. It's a good place to burrow in for a good tasting or three.
And on that particular night we came across Le Blaireau — The Badger.
Since we were bone dry thirsty — as is usual before our daily apéro — our friend behind the bar poured us a few quick glasses of a 100% Carignan.
Wait — an apé-what?
Apéro — from apéritif — a drink served during appetizers. When guests arrive, the French joyfully shout “Apéro”! Everyone gathers together and the host serves wine, whiskey, pastis or whatever each guest prefers. Saucisson, cheese or a mix of both ("une planche mixte") are often served in wine bars, but something a bit more elaborate can be served at home.
Le Blaireau 2015
Brilliant color with violet shades. Expressive nose with hints of blackberry, black pepper and Mediterranean herbs. Nice, round body. Fresh, dense and structured.
Named after the real European badger that used to live in the vineyard.
JUST A FEW NOTES ON CARIGNANHigh fruit, medium-to-high tannins and acidity — for those who like Zinfandel or Merlot. Mostly found in southern France, specifically to dry Languedoc-Roussillon, and fortunately quite resistant to drought. Has undergone a renaissance in recent years as winemakers and consumers warm to its bursts of fruit and spice.
Since that perfectly wet the palette, we wondered what other tricks were up the sleeves of this winemaker, this vigneron (VEEN-YAY-RONE)...
*You may have noticed the spaces before the exclamation points. It's not a typo, it's the way the French write. Why do they do this? Let's just call it the French Touch.
From badgers to... a few glasses of Les Ruches (The Beehives).
Les Ruches 2014
35% Carignan, 35% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre.
Dark, voluminous blend of carignan, grenache and mourvedre. Dark color with violet hues. Notes of black cherries, pepper and mango. Voluminous body with velvety tannins. Fresh balsamic finish.
And you guessed it — beehives reside on this parcel. The vineyard must also be a wildlife refuge!
JUST A FEW NOTES ON MOURVÈDRESmall, thick-skinned berries, mourvèdre likes warm, dry climates. Predominantly a blending grape, it provides intense color and tannins, earning it the nickname: Étrangle-Chien (the dog strangler).
But don't take that the wrong way. If you like the dark fruit and pepper flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, you have a friend in Mourvèdre.
They kinda look the same, don't they?
*See? There's that space again!
— CHAPTER 2 —
ON THE ROAD
And with that, there was only one thing to do.
Hop in the car and head south... Deep south...
To an area in in the middle of Languedoc-Roussillon, called Terrasses du Larzac.
- It's about an 8 hour drive from Paris, so plenty of time to read up on our destination!
For context, here's a snapshot of Languedoc-Roussillon:
PRODUCTIONLargest wine-producing region in France (40%!) and the world.
CLIMATEWhere cool mountain air meets the temperate Meditteranean Sea.
SOILSLimestone, calcareous clay, alluvium, pebbles, sandstone, shale, schist, etc.
GRAPESRed: Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cinsault, Carignan, Syrah, Mourvèdre
White: Clairette, Chardonnay, Ugni Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Muscat, Sauvignon, Viognier
— SO WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? —
Some of the best quality wines for the price in the world.
- Approximately 30 miles northwest from Montpellier & the Mediterranean Sea
- Romans first planted vineyards here over 2,000 years ago
- Winemaking dramatically expanded alongside the abbeys of Benedictine monks
- Mass production of wine began by 1770
- Five grapes are grown here: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Carignan
- AOC: Requires painstaking blending — a minimum of three varietals — and at least one year of maturation.
— SO WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? —
You can enjoy a multi-generational revolution in quality winemaking. Wines that benefit from a fresher climate than the rest of Languedoc. Cooler summer nights and slower maturation of grapes results in increased flavor.
Are we there yet?
— CHAPTER 3 —
THE ESTATE OF MAS DES QUERNES
HERE WE ARE — AT MAS DES QUERNES!
BIENVENUE ! (WELCOME!)
MEET JEAN & PETER
is a German wine merchant — or as he says: a weine merchant.
is a renowned Languedoc oenologist and wine consultant.
Together they founded Mas des Quernes.
Jean originally intended to just help his longtime friend establish a winery, but they were both so taken with a vineyard in Terrasses du Larzac, that they agreed to partner up and produce wine together.
A TOUR OF THE GROUNDS
A VISIT TO THE VAT ROOM
WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS!
LAST, BUT NOT LEAST
After a quick revisit of Le Blaireau and Les Ruches (sometimes newly bottled vintages are available at the wineries), we move on to new territory...
Les Petites Terrasses 201460% Cinsault, 20% Syrah, 20% Merlot.
Complex, delicate medium-bodied red. Notes of pepper, acacia and cherry. Slight, fresh minerality on the finish.
Named after its parcel on the steppe below the high Larzac plateau.
Mourvèdre Armand 201490% Mourvedre, 10% Carignan.
Dense, full-bodied red. Expressive notes of blackberry and clove on the nose. Generous, lingering flavors of ripe black and red currant, tobacco, vanilla.
Remember our varietal notes above? This one is a mourvèdre bomb with fruity highlights of Carignan.
La Villa Romaine 201350% Carignan, 30% Mourvedre, 20% Grenache.
Impressively concentrated, estate-aged full-bodied red. Notes of brown tobacco, camphor and vanilla. Well-balanced, a charming palate of black, red currant and cherry.
Roman ruins and pieces of old villas dot the area — hence the name of this wine.
Le Querne 201370% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 10% Carignan.
Powerful, yet elegant medium-bodied ruby-colored red. Ample, ripe black and red fruit with pepper and chocolate notes. Lingering finish, hint of thyme.
The crème-de-la-crème from Mas des Quernes and only a few hundred bottled each year.
Et voilà !
Mission accomplished. Beautiful terroirs, delicious wines, lovely hosts — plenty of joyful experiences to share with our American friends.
And with that we bid the Mas des Quernes team an "à bientôt" — see you soon!
Epilogue? We don't need no stinkin' epilogue!
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