2020 marks two decades since Jean-Claude Mas began his journey to build what has become one of the most well-respected groups of wine estates in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France. But this year they have a second major accomplishment to celebrate: being awarded European Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast.
Wine Enthusiast, one of the top-three US wine and spirits publications, officially announced the award on November 11th. Each year, Wine Enthusiast honors the individuals and companies making outstanding contributions to the wine and beverage world through their Annual Wine Star Awards. The Wine Enthusiast Media team submits nominees for 15 different categories and the nominees are voted on and ultimately culled down to finalists based on factors like “impact on consumers and trade in the wine, spirits, or beer space, commercial successes, company/brand vision, and trendsetting.”
About Domaines Paul Mas
The 15 estates of Domaines Paul Mas have been major players in reinvigorating the prestige of the Languedoc’s ancient winemaking history. Over the past two decades, they have grown from a small family plot near Pézenas to encompass 850 hectares of vineyards across the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. Their wines range from everyday-drinkers to prestigious estate bottlings but all maintain a certain approachability, embodied by their motto “Le Luxe Rural” (Rural Luxury).
The indisputable powerhouse behind this project is Jean-Claude Mas. Returning to the Languedoc in the late 90s after stints in finance, advertising, and even motorcycle racing, Jean-Claude founded Domaines Paul Mas with 35 hectares of land inherited from his father (who was himself a third-generation winemaker). He started the project of becoming a bonafide winemaker with a deep loyalty to the region where he was raised, first participated in “les vendanges” (grape harvest), and gained an appreciation for the warm, joyful culture of wine.
The wines of Domaines Paul Mas were first brought to the US in 2005 and the American palate immediately took to the style of winemaking described by Jean-Claude as “old world wines with a new world attitude.” Over the last 15 years their US presence has grown to over 1 million bottles imported annually*. Much of their outstanding lineup is represented by Volio Imports and distributed across the US, including Arrogant Frog, Paul Mas Réserve, Château Paul Mas, Château des Crès Ricards, and La Forge Estate.
Jean-Claude is the head winemaker for all of his lines, which requires incredible discernment and direction across such a diverse set of properties. He achieves this feat through a laser-focused commitment to this philosophy in every winemaking choice.
A main pillar of this philosophy is sustainability, which is woven into every vineyard and winery at Domaines Paul Mas. As they celebrate 20 years of innovation in the Languedoc, it is also worth celebrating the measures they have taken to ensure that the land they care for will be healthy and bountiful for the next 20 (and long beyond).
100% of their vines are certified to the highest level of HVE (“Haute Valeur Environnementale” or “High Environmental Value,” in English) and 80% are farmed organically. Fundamentally, Jean-Claude is dedicated to integrating sustainability into each phase of winemaking–water is strictly conserved and recycled in the wineries, all production waste is composted or recycled, and he has even started to experiment with growing lesser-known, heartier varietals that would be more naturally disease and pest resistant.
Jean-Claude uses the phrase “old world wines with a new world attitude” to describe his stylistic approach to winemaking. For Jean-Claude, it’s all in the balance of things. This includes his winemaking–of course–but also the culture he promotes around his wines. Bottles from Domaines Paul Mas are meant to speak to their place of origin and hold up as pure expressions of their varietals without being pretentious or exclusive.
The most important through-line in all of Jean-Claude’s work though is the concept of “Le Luxe Rural,” or “Rural Luxury.” He sums up the concept like this: “With the greatest respect for our rural roots, we aim for perfection. Our wines are the result of our mission to inspire real emotions.” Wonderful wine should accompany wonderful memories.
It speaks to the intimate connection between wine and life, food, celebration, and community. As he puts it, his top priority is always quality–and quality is always luxurious. The pleasure of good wine should be an experience sought daily, not something reserved for a special occasion. Life’s simple luxuries deserve a consistent place at our tables.
Jean-Claude makes wines that do exactly this: enhance and delight.
Volio is so proud to work with the Domaines Paul Mas team and to join them in celebrating this remarkable accomplishment.