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One Brilliant Bottle

organic/biodynamic/natural wines in Vinland

Mas Amiel Prestige 15 Ans d’ Âge

France (Roussillon)

grenache (90%), maccabeu, carignan

It was a “Happy Valentine’s Day, Anne!”

This is an exceptional dessert wine for lovers, especially lovers of exceptional chocolate. It’s an aged vin doux naturel from Roussillon in southern France and pairs particularly well with that most decadent of foods. An article on the difficulties of finding wine that harmonizes with chocolate led me on a search for Mas Amiel. I found it in Montréal. I have been a very big fan ever since.

In the making of ‘vin doux naturel,’ alcohol is added to stop the fermentation process. This retains the flavours of the grapes as well as the high sugar levels, which at drinking time blend wonderfully with the bitterness of dark chocolate. This Mas Amiel spent its first year literally baking in the sun in large glass demi-johns, before retreating inside and into oak barrels for another fourteen. The result is a complex treasure, not easily forgotten, even after the chocolate box is bare.

A couple of months ago very good friends brought from Europe a classic black box from chocolatier Pierre Marcolini. It provided the most astounding tasting experience. Alas, the Mas Amiel appeared on the scene after the box was emptied. But it does look rather good reposing on all that was left — the memories aroused by the booklet insert.


Mas Amiel Prestige 15 Ans d’ Âge

The colour is mahogony, the nose bears the mood of vintage port. Through it drifts aromas of dark fruit compote. Plus raisins, roasted nuts, warmed fruit cake. It coats the palate thinly but with a lasting elegant sweetness, delightfully balanced. Mas Amiel is for a fire on a winter’s night. For dark chocolate on a dark night.  $$

When Olivier Decelle purchased Mas Amiel he lacked any background in viniculture. His former life was in frozen foods. But, as is so often the case with the superb new wine-making ventures in the south of France, a passion for the vines lead to a sudden change of career and the emergence of a freshly minted vigneron. Decelle drew in a team of experts to fill in the considerable gaps in his wine experience. From the beginning the approach was organic. What the soil and his winery team produced Decelle took to market with the skills learned in his previous career.

Consider the label. It’s not exactly in the tradition of French viniculture. Yet it aroused attention wherever in the world Decelle went to showcase his wines. The enthusiasm of wine reviewers propelled the interest, and the comfort level with dark chocolate (at a time when fine chocolate was developing a caché near equal to that of fine wine) increased it all the more.

Here’s to chocolate. Here’s to chocolate followed by Mas Amiel.



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