Jean-Claude Mas aims to make wines with a “luxuriously rustic” character. Interpretation is everything, and it’s easy for the mind to spin on those words. These are classy wines from highly selective and ambitious cellars that punch above their weight classes (a.k.a. price points). Whether you enjoy them at your urban dining table or on a blanket spread in the countryside of southwestern France (the only way I can see “rustic” entering the picture), it’s pretty easy to feel the luxury of each sip, especially in the case of the Château Paul Mas Belluguette!

93
Château Paul Mas 2016 Languedoc Blanc Parcelle Belluguette 14% $20
Give this beguiling, aromatic blend of 40% Vermentino, 30% Roussanne, 20% Grenache Blanc and 10% Viognier the chance to come out of its shell (err…bottle), and it will be almost embarrassingly rewarding. Mine took two days to start hitting its high notes, but it was worth the wait. Field flower honey, lemon peel, cantaloupe and candlewax drive the grand aromas. The palate is weighted with layers of flavor and sumptuous textures lifted by pinpoint-precise acidity. This offers phenomenal quality for the price. It could easily command 1.5x its current SRP.
Drink: 2018-20

89
Côté Mas NV Crémant de Limoux Saint-Hilaire 12% $16
What a charming and almost whimsical blend this is! Mauzac isn’t always an easy grape to love, even when it is tucked into a blend. It likes to makes its presence known, even in small quantities, and though it is a traditionally blended grape in Limoux it mostly doesn’t play well with others. Impressively, the 10% Mauzac here melds beautifully with the 60% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc and 10% Pinot Noir. The nose is reserved with tones of clementine peel, Poire William and sliced bread crusts. Though only 12% alcohol, there’s an almost meaty weight on the palate with crisply popping bubbles and seamlessly integrated acidity. The moderate finish tastes of brioche and mealy textured apples. Tremendously good, seriously crafted and yet very approachable in flavor, harmony and price point.
Drink: 2018-19

88
Côté Mas NV Crémant de Limoux Rosé Brut 12% $16
This wine looks like it is a pretty, ballet slipper pink tinged with a blood orange tincture. Its nose is fresh and fruit-driven with just enough toasty notes to give it gravitas. Blended from 70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc and 10% Pinot Noir, these noble varieties give the palate genuine flavor depth. There’s a mix of yellow apple and strawberry fruits on the palate that lend allure and complexity. Only slightly foamy on the attack, there’s perfectly knit acidity to give this wine lift and suave integration that gives the wine a moreish-ness that begs another glass.
Drink: 2018-19

87
Picpoul de Pinet 2016 13% $14
Showing a surprisingly deep yellow color for such a young wine, this Picpoul also sports a vaguely floral nose with red apples and strawberries on the palate. Smooth with a hint of glycerol on the medium-bodied palate, this is not the Picpoul of my MW study days. That version tended to be taut and lean on flavor, save lemony and grassy tones. This has texture and breadth and a pleasantly caressing finish, too.
Drink: 2018-19