Monday, 9 November 2009

Mas Gabriel - find of the year

There’s plenty of opportunity to try local wines at various events and village fairs, especially in season. By far the most intriguing encounter this year was Mas Gabriel back in May. Three wines were on tasting, their white, rosé and red. The rosé was clean and fresh with gently perfumed red fruits and strawberry yet had a serious stony backbone that could partner food. The white and red didn’t leave any particular impression other than an astonishing purity that underlined all three wines. A couple of bottles of Les Fleurs Sauvages 2008 rosé were soon consumed chez nous and confirmed how delicious it was. Being made from 50 year old vines of Carignan and Cinsault clearly makes a difference.

We soon made a trip to Caux for more supplies and the opportunity to taste the white and red again, although this time from pre-opened bottles. Clos des Papillons 2008 is made from old and rare Carignan Blanc and fresh almonds, lemon peel and rosemary were all evolving in the glass with a fresh hay finish. Clos Gabriel 2006 is 63% Carignan, 28% Syrah and 9% Grenache. A soft ripe blackcurrant and blackberry start becomes classy boot polish. Mouth filling and robust without being heady and the finish is balanced with reassuring tannins. When we returned in the autumn the rosé and white were sold out, although lovers of fine food should note that O-Bontemps in nearby Magalas will be listing the white. Just bottled in October was the Les Trois Terrasses 2008 Carignan – my bottles will rest over winter before I broach them. Cellar door prices are 6 € to 12 € and offer better value than most growers in the more fashionable Montpeyroux triangle.

Alchemy in action

2006 was Peter and Debora Core’s first vintage having been lucky enough to purchase some extraordinarily diverse parcels of vines from parts of the esteemed Domaine de la Garance. Now expanded to 6 hectares with some new plantings the vineyards, which were tendered organically, are currently in the three year “bio” certification paperwork marathon. The Cores also practice bio-dynamic principles. Before starting Mas Gabriel over two years were spent in New Zealand and Bordeaux learning the practicalities of viticulture and winemaking – yes this was a complete career and lifestyle change.

Mas Gabriel is easy to visit – on summer weekend afternoons just turn up, otherwise phone or email first to avoid disappointment (details here).


  1. Intriguing! You'll have to visit me sometime too. :)

  2. Thoroughly endorse all the good things you've said. Encomium richly deserved.