Natural wines from Mas Amiel - a new range
And following our conversation Nicolas was keen that I should try his new natural wines, which duly arrived a few days later. I left them to recover from the journey. And this is what I thought. The key different between these and any of Mas Amiel’s other wines is no sulphur, as the label says. Otherwise vinification methods are similar.
Nicolas talked about the changes in the vineyards over the years. He enthused about biodynamics, how the wines may indeed be less demonstrative in a large tasting but have an underlying energy. Over the years, they have developed their own yeast strains, and have significantly reduced what they do in the cellar, and in particular the amount of sulphur they use so that in 2020 they felt they could make wines without any sulphur at all. Nicolas thinks this makes the wines more expressive. The white wines have a short élevage in stainless steel, and the reds are also kept in stainless steel vats and then aged in bottle. Nicolas made a comparison of the difference between lait cru or unpasteurised milk, and pasteurised milk. He also enthused about the identité parcellaire, and how Grenache can vary, depending on aspect, climate and soil.
And by way of a footnote, he commented that there was more interest in vin doux, especially in restaurants.
Natural is a Catalan word; in French it would be naturel. All four wines are a retail price of 14.50€ in France.
Cépages Blancs Mêlés – a mixture of grape varieties, namely at least 70% Grenache Blanc and Macabeo, with 20% Grenache Gris and 10% Vermentino.
This was classic white Roussillon, with a firm, fresh nose, and on the palate, firm acidity, with youthful stony fruit. The flavours were very direct and incisive, with a refreshing finish.
Natural Cinsault 2020
Quite a deep colour, with fresh ripe fruit on the nose. The palate is fresh and rounded and fragrant, with supple tannins, and the essential drinkability of Cinsault. The choice of Cinsault is unusual, given that relatively little is grown in Roussillon. And in the past, it has been used for rosé, whereas today it is increasingly recognised as a very suitable grape for red wine. I definitely feel that Cinsault is underrated for red wine, and in the right hands, it makes some deliciously perfumed wines, which are light and fragrant, and often at their best, slightly chilled making the perfect summer drinking.
2020 Natural Syrah, Côtes Catalanes
Good young colour. Rounded ripe spicy nose and palate. Ripe and youthful, rounded with some balancing tannin and acidity. The Syrah was the wine I liked the least, possibly as it is less suited to the heat of Roussillon, and to my mind performs better in cooler climates.
2020 Natural Grenache
Quite a deep colour. The classic liqueur cherry fruit of Grenache Noir on both the nose and palate. Supple tannins giving the ripe fruit some backbone. A rounded finish. The wine had some appealing freshness, with an underlying elegance and balance. Even at 14.5° it did not taste heavy.