Jean-Claude Mas on life and his noetic approach to winemaking
In 2000, Jean-Claude Mas created Château Paul Mas, named after his father Paul, a skilled grape grower who devoted his life to the vineyard. With grape growing expertise passing from father to son since 1892, Jean-Claude Mas has been able to steer his family towards the profession of winemaking, and since 2000, this expertise will pass from father to daughter. We caught up with him to learn more about the future of this family’s rich winemaking tradition.
POSITIVE WINEMAKING, WHICH IS RESPECTFUL AND BENEFICIAL TO THE ENVIRONMENT, IS INTEGRAL TO OUR VALUES
Please tell us about Paul Mas wines and the rich history behind it:
Paul Mas wines are the result of a symbiotic harmony between an extraordinary region for producing wines, my passion for the vineyard, and a great winemaking and blending knowledge: the Paul Mas style.
Inspired by the open-minded New World approach, we are capable of protecting our environment and respecting our rural roots. On our estates, innovation and tradition seamlessly combine to create a philosophy that we call Rural Luxury. Our aim is to produce wines that can spark real emotions.
How did you decide to take a noetic approach to winemaking ?
After 18 years’ experience devoted to research and discovery, striving with a passion to improve our understanding of Languedoc’s soils, climate, plants and vines – both clones and rootstocks – the time seemed ripe to reveal the exceptional terroirs that make up the family estates. Clos Astelia, Laurinya and Silénus – with the 2016 vintage – are the first releases.
This truly noetic approach has allowed me to see a potential in my vineyards and offer wines never previously showcased until now.
Positive winemaking, which is respectful and beneficial to the environment, is integral to our values. If our soils are teeming with life, like us, the vines perform better, and the wines are naturally more exquisite as a result.
You received 14 Gold Medals at the 2019 Concours General Agricole in Paris, what makes these wines exceptional?
The Concours General Agricole is open to producers only. Because of our vineyard ownership structure we can present wines from our different estates: 15 appellations, 45 grape varieties. Since we are able to control and shape the style of our wines from vineyard to bottle, we can be present in competitions and compete successfully in term of value for money but also in terms of image.
Can you share the growth strategy behind your rosé range?
My approach is primarily based on a judicious selection of grape varieties, with Cinsault first in line alongside two favorites naturally suited to creating rosé wines; Grenache gris and Pinot gris. Other varieties: Grenache noir, Mourvedre, Caladoc and Syrah bring that extra complexity I am looking for. Another important factor is selecting the most suitable terroirs for rosé production. Characterised by vigour, consistency and moderate hydric stress, the blocks of vines allocated to the production of rosé wine are worlds apart from those dedicated to red wines.
The vines must have an active growth rate to create a good canopy suitable for making rosé wines focused on fruit and freshness. From pruning and all the way through the vine growth cycle, every aspect of the viticultural regime is adapted to this aim.
Finally, the last major factor is selecting the most appropriate packaging to protect the wines. Rather than using traditional clear glass, rosé wines intended for ageing are packaged in bottles such as the Limited Edition Astelia bottle, or in glass with a protective sleeve to provide greater protection from light.
How is climate change impacting you?
Actually I tend to believe that in the Languedoc we are probably the least affected by this change thanks to our Mediterranean climate. The challenge to stay resilient to any climatic fluctuations is to revive our soils, maintain and develop biodiversity, be able to work with less water demanding vines, more resistant to heat and other vine diseases.
In order to achieve the goal of a climate resistant wineyard we have to get better maturity at slightly lesser grades, adjust our canopy management and when needed use water in the most efficient way thanks to our variable rate drip irrigation system.
What are you doing to keep innovating and maintain quality at the same time?
General culture is key to innovation, I try to have an interest in many different fields, design, architecture, gastronomy, cars, motorcycle, paintings, martial arts, I spend a lot of time surrounding myself with nature, it’s a real source of inspiration. I learn by experience and by exchanging a lot with others. Meanwhile all these experiences stimulate my curiosity and fuel my creativity.
Hall 1 / Stand AB25
Photo : Jean-Claude Mas, Founder and Executive Manager, Château Paul Mas