© Andy Abramson
In the Languedoc there is a wonderful place to learn and taste about wine called the Mas de Soporta. My friend, Brian Wilkie, who hailed from London, retired to the Languedoc, but was lured out of retirement by a Gulf state sultan to build his castle. Wilkie introduced me to the Maison de Vin back in 1995. Since then I've made it a regular stop for a meal, and to see the wines, even taste the wines on offer, something which I plan on doing in detail next week.
Brian would be happy. Back in 1995 he would moan and complain that there was no one central and complete listing of the Languedoc producers. Now the Languedoc producers have put one out, with additional text in both French and English.
At the Mas de Soporta you always get great food, harried service, but with great wine at exceedingly low prices. The dining room is filled with winemakers, wine sales folks and of course wine lovers. Each day they open various bottles from established and new producers to truly promote the regions products.
The 1998 Roucaillat, from Haut Terres de Comberousse, is from the AOC Coteaux du Languedoc. It is a 100 percent Rolle (Vermentino) wine that I've had the good fortune to drink before. My dear friend Melanie Wong will remember it as one of the birthday wines from Café Katy two years ago. It is sensational and goes so very well with large pillow pocket size ravioli's that have been stuffed with basil and ricotta in sun drenched olive oil infused with local herbs. The wines flavor is superb. It is loaded with lemon and lime, pineapple and apricots. The finish is very good, with perfect balance, showing much character at a young age, for as a rule Languedoc whites need time in the bottle to really strut their stuff.
With my main course, a brandade over white beans, with roasted red and green peppers, I am served two reds. One by the host and the second from the next table, for the Mas is that type of place. Oh, and did I mention that wines by the glass served with your meals are included in the price. For 98ff about $16.00 I would say that's truly, a very good deal. They even leave the bottles at your table and no one watches how much you drink.
The first red, from St. Christol, is a new wine for me. The 1995 Domaine De La Coste, Cuvee Presitige. It's classified as a Coteaux du Languedoc and is a blend of Syrah, Carignan and Grenache. Loaded with typical garrigue character and flavor, the wine is still young, something that is not surprising as 1995 was a very backwards vintage. The wines will need a good eight years or more to really develop their fullest flavors. On the palate cranberries, spice, red bell pepper, cherries and blueberries are evident.
The second white is a new wine, from a new producer, Domaine de Conquettes, of Aniane. It is the same town that Mas Dumas de Gassac hails from. It offers an onslaught of Grenache or Carignan that attacks your senses at first whiff along with lots of spicy Syrah. On the palate the standard Languedoucien blue/blackberry and Garrigue flavor, along with herbs, lavender, rosemary, sagebrush and cherries, all ending with a long and lingering finish. The wine has sensational body, offers well-developed character and complexity, and is worth seeking out.
To contact Andy Abramson, write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.