WineMason is an Irish wine importer run by husband and wife team Ben Mason and Barbara Boyle MW. They specialise in wines from Germany, Portugal and Austria, but their expanding portfolio now encompasses France, South Africa, Spain and Italy.
Here are a pair of outstanding wines from the Languedoc that I tried for the first time earlier this year:
Domaine Turner Pageot “Le Blanc” Coteaux du Languedoc 2015 (14.0%, RRP €23, though currently only in restaurants)
At first the name of this producer might mislead you in to saying “Turner” with French pronunciation, just like Palmer of Margaux, but in fact it is the surname of anglophone Karen Turner, the Australian lady who is half of this partnership. The other half is her other half, Frenchman Emmanuel Pageot. After over ten years of making wine around the world, they set up a domaine together in the Languedoc of just 3.5 hectares, now expanded to 10 Ha. These 10 Ha are split over 17 different parcels, mainly facing north or north west (which makes sense in these southerly latitudes. Viticulture is biodynamic – they even feature quotations from Rudolf Steiner on their website.
Le Blanc is a blend of 80% Roussanne and 20% Marsanne, though the latter punches above its weight due to 30 days of fermentation on skins to extract as many varietal aromas as possible. This wine therefore gives an introduction to the orange wine category. It’s quite full bodied for a white and combines stone fruit (apricot, peach) with nuts, beeswax and tropical fruits. A very impressive wine.
Domaine Turner Pageot “Les Choix” Vin de France 2014 (13.5%, RRP €39, though currently only in restaurants)
If Le Blanc was an introduction into orange wine, then Les Choix is at the forefront. This is 100% Marsanne from steep north – north-west slopes, fermented in whole bunches. The juice spends five weeks being macerated on the skins, including regular pigeages (punching down the floating cap of solids) and wild yeast fermentation is not temperature controlled – this helps to bring the funk!
Perhaps showing the power of suggestion, I did imagine some orange notes when tasting this orange wine – and what a great ambassador for the category it is! It has texture and tannin but fruit too – an incredibly complex wine that deserves serious consideration and contemplation. Orange wine is still something of a rarity, but wines like this show what they can do; they really do belong in their own category beside red, white and rosé!