Mas success for Jean Claude

Jean Claude Mas (pictured) is a native of southern France’s Languedoc region and a frequent visitor to Australia. (Photo: Pennlive website)

Arrogant Frog is one of the shining success stories of modern wine marketing. It’s the brainchild of Jean Claude Mas, a native of southern France’s Languedoc region, a man who sees the global picture, and a frequent visitor to Australia, where his wines have been sold by Dan Murphy’s for 18 years. Indeed, Dan’s was one of his first five customers in the world, together with Nicolas in France and Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Majestic in the UK. He cites strong partnerships with key retailers as integral to his success.

Mas has an enormous 750 hectares of estate-owned vineyards at his disposal, so unsurprisingly there are some blocks that yield superior quality grapes.

Arrogant Frog retails for AUD $10 a bottle, and there are even cheaper wines in the portfolio such as Domaine Paul Mas, with wines as low as AUD $8 and as high as AUD $20.

Another of his brands is Domaine d’Astruc Reserve Chardonnay, the 2017 good value at AUD $14. And the very tasty Côté Mas wines sell for AUD $12-$17 a bottle. Nearly everything I’ve tasted under these labels was good to very good value for money.

But Mas is about to take a bold new step up-market. In September he’ll be debuting three AUD $50 wines through Woolworths’ BWS and/or Dan Murphy’s stores. They are:

  • Laurinya, a 2016 Côtes du Roussillon made from syrah with a touch of grenache.
  • Silenus, Gres de Montpellier AOP Languedoc 2018, from grenache and syrah.
  • Clos Astelia 2016, an IGP from cabernet sauvignon and syrah.

“These wines are designed to become the flagship wines of Domaines Paul Mas, with a wish to enter the great wines segment,” he said.

Besides this, he is working on his cinsault project: a red and a rosé. The first dry red cinsault is a 2017 which is still in the vat; the rosé will commence with the 2018 vintage.

Mas has a special interest in cinsault, which he describes as the flagship variety of the Languedoc, and would like to see more attention given to it.

“Cinsault is like the pinot noir of the Languedoc. It is the next step up from rosé. After 18 years of getting to understand the Languedoc, this is the next step. I am working on understanding the best possible soil for cinsault as well as a better understanding of the clones.”

Mas has an enormous 750 hectares of estate-owned vineyards at his disposal, so unsurprisingly there are some blocks that yield superior quality grapes. “We have identified great plots of old cinsault vines.”

The Domaines Paul Mas story involves 12 estates, all in the Languedoc, the 750 hectares of their own vines supplemented with 1,500 hectares of contracted vineyards, producing 145,000 hectolitres of wine a year under numerous brands, 90% of which is exported – to 61 countries.

One of Mas’s next projects is to convert more vineyards to organic management. He says 70% of the estate vines are farmed using organic principles, and 15% are certified organic. “This is the future,” he enthuses.

Mas doesn’t let the grass grow under him. He is also active in trialling new grape varieties for the Languedoc. Some of these are resistant to Esca and mildews. Esca, a fungal disease that infects pruning cuts and eventually kills the vine, has forced him to replant a lot of vineyards.

“There are 28 varieties which have been given approval for testing. We can trial them but we cannot use them in appellation wines as yet.”

The two he’s most interested in are sauvignier – a cross between sauvignon blanc and viognier – and muscardin.

Read my 2011 story on Arrogant Frog here.

And one from 2015 here.

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