Mas Amiel Vintage Blanc 2009

I discovered this wine by accident while I was doing some research for a fortified wine class I was teaching. As one of the class tasting wines was from Mas Amiel (a perfectly charming Muscat de Beaumes de Venise), I decided to have a look and see what else this producer might offer that would appeal to a curious vinophile. And this is what I found!

The Vintage Blanc from Mas Amiel is a Vin Doux Naturel made from 100% Grenache gris. This grape variety is very rare and generally is simply blended in with other Grenache varieties as it is usually scattered through vineyards in the Languedoc, rather than grown on its own. The folks at Mas Amiel actually do several passes through the vineyards in order to pick the tiny amounts of individual Grenache Gris grapes by hand.

This wine has a very pale lemon hue and perfectly ripe, balanced fruit. It is quite mysterious and I find it to be a curious combination of a number of other white grape varieties. It has a very floral, perfumed nose that reminds you a little of Gewurztraminer, but also the very smoky, characteristics of an Alsace Pinot Gris, then comes the minerality of a Riesling, although not the same level of acidity.

The palate is full of fruit, mainly baked apple and lychee and finishes with a smoky, mineral crispness.

Although this is a VDN, the alcohol level is only 15.5% and extremely well integrated. Perfectly balanced and very easy to drink. Note: the back label says 15.5%, but the website says 18%…)

We tried it as an aperitif, then had it with cold meats, pâtés and some quite salty, sheep’s milk cheese. It was perfect like this but I think I would hesitate to use it with a dessert as the perfume and richness might be a little too overpowering

A real find, although its scarcity is reflected in the price of nearly 15 euros.

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