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Visiting Coume del Mas & Mas Cristine

May 15th, 2017 by Alma Ledgerwood-Walker

At the beginning of April we rounded up a few lucky customer-friends and headed down to the Deep South of France, to visit winemaker Philippe Gard at his estates, Coume del Mas & Mas Cristine, not far from the pretty town of Collioure in the Roussillon…

First stop – meeting Philippe at his Coume del Mas winery, nestled amongst spectacular sloping vineyards of old gnarly vines and an awful lot of schiste – the Precambrian type, I believe… ūüôā

 

Panoramic View of Surrounding vineyards from Coume del Mas winery

Panoramic view of surrounding vineyards from Coume del Mas winery

There, amongst others,¬†we tasted the exciting and soon-to-be-released 2016 vintages of white wine, “Folio” – a fantastically spicy barrel-fermented Grenache Gris – and from tank the red, “Schistes”, a concentrated, old-vine Grenache, with silky tannins and a beautiful mineral freshness.

 

Old-Vine Mourvedre clinging on to steep Schiste slopes

Old-vine Mourvedre  doing its best to cling on to those steep schiste slopes!

Dinner that evening was Chez Philippe, “√† la bonne franquette” in his words –¬†involving a spread of anchovies,¬†local cheese,¬†and Natalie’s delicious Tarte aux Poireaux. And of course accompanied by a great deal of tasting – including a vertical of the rich flagship red “Quadratur”, Banyuls Rouge Galateo 2015 and Quintessence 2014, and topped off with Philippe’s first ever Banyuls Grand Cru 2005!

Philippe Gard in his boutique winery at Coume del Mas

Philippe Gard in his boutique winery at Coume del Mas

After a night spent in Collioure’s¬†H√ītel¬†Les Templiers, (some of it in the hotel’s historic Bar des Peintres) the following morning we set off to¬†explore the vineyards of sister estate, Mas Cristine, with more beautiful sea views looking down towards Banyuls-sur-Mer.

 

In the vineyards at Mas Cristine

A lesson on viticulture in the vineyards of Mas Cristine

It was at Mas Cristine’s new swanky winery, with its shop and sampling room, that we tasted through the range of wines made at the estate – Mas Cristine Blanc, Ros√©¬†and Rouge… and here again came the telltale signs of impressive winemaking – vibrancy of fruit, concentration accompanied by freshness, and those terroir notes of garrigue herbs and peppery spice… And it turned out that we had quite the surprise in store at lunch when Quadratur 2001 made a special appearance- the domaine’s first vintage.

Group Pic! High up amongst the Vineyards at Coume del Mas.

Group Pic! High up amongst the vineyards at Coume del Mas.

It’s so special to be able to soak up a little of the¬†passion and energy that goes into making of wines of this standard, and on this trip, to get a better feel for just how special these Southern French creations are; wines with a real house-style – with silky tannins and creamy textures, and with that¬†fantastic balance of freshness and concentration, elegance and authenticity.

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