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Jean-Claude Mas continues quest for Languedoc domination

Published:  08 December, 2017

Since founding Domaine Paul Mas in 2000, Jean-Claude Mas has been building up a wine empire across the  Languedoc Roussillon. Harpers caught up with the Paul Mas proprietor and pioneer behind some the Languedoc’s biggest exports to discuss how the newest portfolio addition continues his quest to own estates “in all the great areas" of this versatile region

Having been born into a family of wine growers, among other things, Jean-Claude Mas went one step further by finally becoming the first official winemaker in the family in the nineties.

But he didn’t stop there. Since 2000 he has set about collecting domaines from across the region which show the diverse draw of the Languedoc, with its 50-odd grape varieties, varied topography and myriad styles (Crémant de Limoux, Picpoul, pale rosés, smooth reds as just a few examples).

As of last year’s acquisition of Domaine Lauriga in the commune of Thuir, Jean-Claude’s reach now extends south all the way from his birthplace in Pézenas in the north of the region to the Côtes du Roussillon, not far from the Spanish border, bringing the total number of Domaines under the Paul Mas (named after his father) umbrella to 12.

According to vineyard manager David Costa, the focus since the take-over has been on investing in equipment to save time on labour-intensive tasks, increase profitability and to “better express the terroir”.

As always with Domaine Paul Mas, this is the raison d'être behind taking on estates, which are chosen for their ability to reflect the versatility of region.

“The Languedoc Roussillon is not one region, its several,” Jean-Claude reminds us. “Laurigua is not French or Spanish or Languedoc, it is Roussillon. Roussillon winemakers especially have a real sense of heritage which is very similar to the Catalan region - very strong. It is also quite similar to Priorat in terms of climate. In the Côtes du Roussillon we are making white, red and rosé. White made from Grenache from this region are very special.”

Known for his “new wave” wines and for being one of drivers behind the Languedoc’s modern image as a place of experimentation – not a word often associated with France – consumers in the UK are well versed with Paul Mas wines, where the likes of Nicole vineyard and Mas des Tannes in Montagnac, Château Crès Ricards in Ceyras, Château Arrogant Frog in Limoux, and Lauriga in Cotes du Roussillon appear on the shelves on Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Co-op and Morrison’s.

But while Jean-Claude inches closer to his goal of owning estates “in all the great areas of the Languedoc”, his ultimate goal is not to dominate but to promote the Languedoc to the wider wine-drinking world.

To do that, he says, French producers must learn to work closer together.

“There is a lack of vision and common work,” he says. “People used to work together, but now there is too much competition between us in France. Bordeaux has a very strong brand name - they should be the leader for opening doors for Cabernet, but Bordeaux is too protective and insular. Languedoc Roussillon and Bordeaux should be the top producers for Cabernet around the world. To do that we must be constructive, not destructive.”

Chateau Lauriga Réserve “Cuvée Jean” (£18.50), Soleil blanc (£13.50) and Château Lauriga Ambré Hors d’Ages (£19.50) are currently available at Soho Wine Supply.