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01 September 2007

Roussillon: Mas Alart

Muscat petits grains from www.masalart.comFrédéric Belmas and his winemaker produce attractive, rather than sensational, red Côtes du Roussillon that can be drunk young while benefiting from a little bottle-age; barrel-matured Rivesaltes Hors d'Age (literally 'beyond age': made from white grapes but slowly turns golden brown, as the Stranglers once sang, over the years) and a lively Muscat de Rivesaltes. The Mas also makes a kind of balsamic vinegar - the smell in the on-site plant (for want of a better word: French has the handy vinaigrerie) is wonderfully overpowering - and a variety of things from organically grown almonds. It's not too difficult to find, off the main road heading out of the village of Saleilles towards Perpignan; easy does it down the potholed rustic track that leads to it.

Tasted mid October 2006:
2005 Muscat sec, la Vigne de Madame - crisp and fresh with lightly perfumed, grapey citrus peel notes; clean mineral finish. 83-85
2005 Carignan vieilles vignes - attractive liquorice fruit, juicy black cherry v dry tannins, quite fine and long. 87
2005 Côtes du Roussillon (Syrah Grenache Carignan) - young spicy fruit, quite concentrated yet elegant, ripe v dry textured finish. 87-89
2005 Muscat de Rivesaltes - fresh and lively honeyed orange peel flavours, nice bite and length v sugar. 87-89
1994 Rivesaltes Hors d'Age - complex rich, oxidised toffee notes on a dried fruit backdrop; good length, 'cut' and maturity v sweet finish. 89-91
Tasted summer 06:
2001 Côtes du Roussillon rouge (13%) - complex maturing meaty tones layered on liquorice and red pepper fruit, soft and ready to drink with a little dry tannin left to finish. Approx €4.50 89
Tasted Sept. 2007:
2005 Merlot, vin de pays des Côtes Catalanes (13%) - enticing plum and cassis aromas with gamey earthy edges, slightly baked/oxidised although this bottle was found on a high supermarket shelf under a light and it had a plastic cork; quite lush and powerful v a touch of extracted dry tannins, not exactly elegant but good with sausages. €3.95 85

Off the D22, 66280 Saleilles. Tel: 04 68 50 51 89, http://www.mas-alart.fr/, frederic.belmas@wanadoo.fr.

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.