Le Mazel 'Briand' Grenache 2018

Le Mazel 'Briand' Grenache 2018

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This wine is from a fairly legendary estate, Le Mazel. I write more about that in the winemaker section below, but that’s only half the story. Grenache is typically somewhat over-extracted in my opinion, especially so in this part of France, where higher average temperatures ripen fruit quickly and convert all the juicy, refreshing acids to sugar, which then gets fermented to alcohol. Like a lot of alcohol. Legs for days, but not exactly what you want when you’re finally busting out your shorts and crocs combo. This grenache isn’t typical. For starters, it undergoes carbonic maceration, similar to a Beaujolais, so it presents as fruit-forward and less abrasively tannic. But this isn’t a young wine. After 10 days maceration, it spends two years (!!) fermenting to dryness at a relatively easygoing 13% ABV. And somehow, after two years it still retains some lively bubbles that present in the glass, just to keep things spicy. I love it. I love this wine.

The winemaker: Natural wine legends Gérald & Jocelyne Oustric are the hands and minds behind Le Mazel wines. Gerald is one of a distinct group of winemakers that experienced an epiphany after meeting Marcel Lapierre during the 80s. At the time, he and his father were working family vineyards and selling to a co-op. He pulled out of the co-op and transitioned to organic, realizing his vision of making wine with zero additions. He joined forces with his sister Jocelyne, and Le Mazel was born. Since then they have leased land and experience to emergent winemakers such as Sylvain Bock and Andrea Calek and lead a collaborative relationship with the natural wine producers of the south-central Rhone.

The geeky details: 100% organic Grenache. 10-day whole-bunch carbonic maceration prior to pressing into stainless steel, where the grapes undergo a very slow, long fermentation sans temperature control. The wine is finally fermented to dryness 2 years later. Bottled unfined, unfiltered, and without any sulfur addition.

Serve: With a light chill

Food pairing: Pizza, obviously. Also craving a hearty pasta and meatballs. Would also go great in a picnic basket with charcuterie and French cheeses.

Album pairing: Aura Safari & Jimi Tenor – Sensory Blending