2005 Mas Amiel Notre Terre

Mas Amiel Notre Terre

When you talk about superb wines from Maury, a postage-stamp sized area within the Rivesaltes appellation, one name comes to mind: Mas Amiel. The current success of this historic estate is largely due to the genius and commitment of Olivier Decelle, a French food mogul who reinvented himself as one of France's leading independent producers. Decelle is known for successfully reversing the fortune of priceless estates that have fallen into disrepair--Chateau Jean Faure in St. Emilion and Haut-Ballet in Canon Fronsac--but the story begins at Mas Amiel, his first experiment.

Fittingly, Mas Amiel originated thanks to a reversal of fortune. In 1816, Raymond Amiel sat down to a game of cards among friends. A few hours later, he left with the deeds to the property he'd just won from the Bishop of Perignan--no divine intervention on this night--and Mas Amiel was born. For more than a century, it was regarded as Maury's finest estate.

By 1997 however, when Olivier Decelle purchased Mas Amiel, it had lost much of its luster due to overproduction. To restore the estate to its former glory, Decelle brought in Stephane Gallet, one of the smartest and most talented winemakers in France. Decelle's passion is wine--he's in it for the long haul. So he also invested heavily to improve the vineyard and modernize the cellar. Decelle's artisan sensibility and meticulous approach to biodynamic farming have brought new appreciation to a declining appellation.

Mas Amiel's Grenache Vines

Maury's extreme climate--hot, arid summers and cold, harsh winters--lends itself to biodynamic techniques; ripeness and intensity are easy to achieve, finesse and backbone much harder. 2005 was a perfect growing season, one of the best vintages for southern France in the last ten years.

Gallet fashions "Notre Terre" from hand-harvested, low-yielding old-vine Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Carignan and aged for 12 months in barrel, a small percentage of which was new. Notre Terre's seductive aromas reveal sweet black cherries intermingled with cassis liqueur. Medium-bodied and juicy, this wine will enormously appeal to anyone with a pulse. Its succulent character offers rich, sexy layers of highly expressive, lush red as well as black fruits. While not the most complex wine on the planet, sometimes we simply desire corporal pleasures. Drink this well-made, gorgeous wine over the next 2-3 years.

Suggested Food Pairing:
Excellent with Provencal lamb or rabbit and aged cheeses.