MAS DU SOLEILLA
The annual Salon des vignerons Independents in Paris is great opportunity, not only for discovering new wines, but also for catching up with old favourites. Mas du Soleilla on the Massif of La Clape comes into that category.
Christa Wildbolz was pouring the wines; her husband Peter was travelling elsewhere in the world, was it Hong Kong or Japan? They bought their vineyard back in the spring of 2002, after a long search,begining in the Rhone Valley and gradually moving west to discover La Clape. Peter and Christa come from Switzerland; he had studied oenology at Bordeaux and worked as an agricultural engineer, and now it was the moment to do his own thing. The first time I tasted his wines, at a small fair in London, about six years ago, I found them quite heavy and oaky. Since then he has fine-tuned them significantly and they are elegant and refined. And I’ve been to visit the estate, and seen the fabulously situated Clôt de l’Amandier.
2009 La Rupture La Clape blanc - 13.00€
2009 is the first vintage of this white, which comes mainly from Bourboulenc, the traditional white variety of la Clape, with some Roussanne. The nose is very intriguing; I found notes of fennel and the taste had a certain salty, sappiness, with fresh acidity. The wine is mainly vinified in stainless steel and enjoys some lees stirring.
2008 La Clape blanc Reserve – 18.00€
A blend of 55% Bourboulenc and 45% Roussanne, with the Bourboulenc fermented and aged in vat and the Roussanne in new barrels, for nine months. The nose is quite firm and nutty, and on the palate the oak is well integrated, with similar notes of fennels and the influence of the sea. Nicely rounded and nutty, with good mouth feel.
2008 Les Chailles, La Clape rouge – 14.00€
Chailles means cailloux or stones in Occitan, and is the name of the plot, which is planted with Grenache and Syrah. The wine is kept in vat. On a cold December day in Paris, this was sunshine in a glass. Rounded and ripe on the nose; supple and spicy on the palate and eminently gouleyant.
2008 L’Intrus, La Clape -
A blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah – the name stems from the fact that they do not have their own Carignan, hence the intrusion. There is some lovely fruit, and a beautiful balance, with a certain elegant rusticity that I associate with good Carignan. The wine has been kept in 500 litre barrels. 2008 is the first vintage, and sadly there may not be another, as their neighbour has pulled up his plot of Carignan.
2008 Les Bartelles – 18.00€
A blend of Syrah and Grenache. Good colour. Quite firm quite solid rounded ripe fruit. Quite a dense palate, wit ha firm tannic streak. A long finish. Aged in wood for six month, partly new. Needs time and should develop beautifully.
2008 Terre du Vent, ICP Coteaux de Narbonne. – 22€
A vin de pays ,or IGP for the blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, aged in barrel. Deep colour; quite rounded ripe fruit. Cassis notes and quite fleshy and ripe on the palate with a touch of oak. Nicely balanced. A long finish and masses of ageing potential.
2007 Clôt de l’Amandier – 35€
From Syrah and 50 year old Grenache, from a wonderful vineyard site in the middle of the Massif of la Clape. Deep colour; quite solid nose, with rich olive tapenade notes. Rich rounded palate with silky tannins. Masses of ageing potential and very stylish.
2008 Petit Mars – 9.00€
This is their entry level wine, the most accessible of the range, a blend of Syrah and Grenache Noir aged in vat. Medium colour; rounded ripe nose; easy fresh palate, with some spicy ripe fruit. Very accessible. A lovely drink. And apparently Mars Bars protested about the choice of name, but their brand is only registered for chocolate!!