2017 was a vintage characterized by sweltering heat and drought in the Languedoc. Many growers decided to pick early in order to preserve acidity in their wines at the price of less mature fruit. Thankfully Jeff chose to wait so his grapes could achieve full maturity. Late August brought brisk maritime winds and cool nights which dropped the sugar levels for Jeff’s grapes, resulting in one of the most balanced and interesting vintages yet. Vin des Amis 2017 is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault and is more serious and broad than his other cuvées. The wine is fermented with native yeast and aged in concrete tank without the addition of sulphur. The nose is generous and bright with complex aromas of plum, damson, flowers and garrigue. It’s medium bodied and silky but rich with brooding dark fruit flavors and earthy minerals framed by ripe tannin on a long persistent finish.
The domaine was established by his father in 1972 and has been run organically since 1987, “before this type of production became fashionable” says Jean Francois.
Mas Coutelou is located in Puimisson, a commune in the Hérault department of the Languedoc and to the east of Béziers. It’s been a winemaking village for over 200 years and most of it’s soils are a mix of red clays and limestone.
Today Jean Francois farms 14 hectares of vines, as well as a few hundred olive trees that protect his vines from his neighbors farming methods.. His father planted the first vines back in 1966 and was one of the pioneers of organic viticulture in the Hérault, when there were just seven organic wine growers in the entire department, today the estate is registered with ‘Nature et Progrès’.
The vines at Mas Coutelou are beautifully taken care of and all by hand. The estate is planted to Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Mourvèdre & Cinsaut for red wines and Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Blanc a Petite Grains & Viognier for the whites. He has recently planted some Grenache Gris, Macabeu, and grafted some Clairette musqué and Carignan blanc.
The vinification is meticulous and adapted every season; short or long maceration, carbonic maceration, punching down or pumping all depends on the vintage and variety. Selected yeasts have never been used and the use of SO2 is limited, or non-existent in some years when it is possible.The bottling is done at the estate, without filtration and by gravity, a final but very important mark of quality.