Tasting this wine with a friend of mine last week, we turned our heads and looked at each other with shock and awe. Well, maybe let’s just say surprise. You see, it’s a wine we know from previous vintages, and like, and respect, but never has it elicited this kind of response. This is just good ole honest, satisfying, reasonably priced, south-of-France country wine, right? Well, yes it is, but we found a degree of depth and complexity that rocked us. In fact, it led my friend to say that elements of it reminded him of a California Syrah he drank the previous evening that cost $45.00! And yes, I am familiar with that wine, and it is a head-turning wine, but when you can have the same profound sense of pleasure and surprise for $13.99 (or $11.89 with case discount), what is one to do? If I can afford to drink this well every day, sign me up!
We sell many wines from the south of France here at the Wine House, so we constantly taste and re-taste Grenache/Syrah-based reds, especially from Costieres de Nimes, near the breathtaking Roman city of Nimes, an area in which our portfolio is particularly strong. And while we rarely tire of these wines thanks to the strong commitment to quality and terroir among their growers, there is a certain sense in which these wines become routine after several vintages. It is almost as though we know how these wines will perform, and while they rarely disappoint our expectations, they maybe don’t create that flash of near ecstasy that can be so thrilling when encountering something very fine and unknown.
Hence my friend’s and my joy the other day when I popped open the 2007 Mas Des Bressades Syrah/Grenache. Always the most broad-shouldered of our Grenache/Syrahs we select from the area, I of course expected ripe, concentrated fruit and firm tannins, which the wine delivered in spades. Perhaps the biggest rendition of this wine I’ve tasted in recent vintages, it both charmed me and bowled me over with the purity of its fruit. On the nose, I felt as though I had just harvested loads of fresh blueberries and blackberries and now smelled them as if they baked into caramelized goodness in a pie. In the mouth, those berry flavors fan out in a lush, mouthcoating manner. While I expected this lushly ripe fruit, I also got what I call a mineral dig and potent texture that conjured up the idea of the joyously ripe Southern Rhone fruit harmoniously joining the iron-and-iodine structure of Bordeaux. In short, this wine far exceeded my expectations and in fact perhaps changed my expectations, but certainly gave me the jolt I usually only get from spendier wines.
So, if you’re looking for something to create that ecstatic, aha experience in your vinous world, thank over-achieving winemaker Cyril Mares that you can have it for well under a twenty with his shockingly good Mas des Bressades Syrah/Grenache.- Patrick Mitten