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JOHN ROZENTALS has a chance encounter with a bargain French bottle and recalls a past meeting in Languedoc with its creator.

July 12, 2019 Beverage No Comments Email Email

It was just over 12 years ago that I met French winemaker Jean-Claude Mas at the tasting bench of his largish winery on the outskirts of the Languedoc town of Pézenas, where he had arranged accommodation for us in a truly endearing hotel.

He had just started selling his Arrogant Frog label in Australia and was having a laugh at the silliness of his countrymen in thinking that Languedoc produced such ordinary wines as to be largely left to its own devices outside a revered appellation system that was a great marketing tool but often acted against beneficial change and crucial innovation.

Meanwhile, he was growing fashionable varieties such as chardonnay in unfashionable areas such as Languedoc, adopting the latest Australian production and marketing techniques, and selling French wine like there was no tomorrow.

He was exactly what you’d expect a French former-racing-car-driver-turned-winemaker to be — charming, good-looking and, yes, racy. I immediately liked him, both for his winemaking skills and for his sense of humour in selling wine to Australians under his new Arrogant Frog label.

The wines were good and they were very competitively priced.

I chanced across of bottle of Jean-Claude’s Arrogant Frog 2016 Chardonnay (Lily Pad White) in a local bottlo the other day and couldn’t resist it at just under the $10 mark.

The wine was very good value — dry and richly flavoured, though just a little rough on the edges when tasted on its own — and I must admit wondering how the grapes could be grown, the wine produced and packaged, all on the other side of the world, and sold in Australia for what was really a steal.

WINE REVIEWS

Logan 2015 Apple Tree Flat Merlot ($10): I often don’t like merlots from the large Australian producers, simply because they’ve been sweetened up for an American market in love with sugar. Smaller Australian producers rarely suffer from that problem, as shown by this medium-bodied red from Mudgee, which has bountiful blueberry flavours, is dry, and constitutes a real bargain. What more do you want?

Tim Adams 2019 Riesling ($24): That this wine is so good was apparently a triumph of solid vineyard management over adverse conditions. The resultant dry white shows hallmark citrus (mainly lime) and floral flavours, and on the palate bracing acidity. Like our Wine of the Week, this is a Clare Valley classic that will develop lovely complexity with maturation in the cellar, if you can resist the temptation now to pair it with freshly grilled bream.

WINE OF THE WEEK

Tim Adams 2016 Shiraz ($26): The other new release this week from Tim Adams comes from one of the best-ever vintages in the history of Clare Valley grape growing. Come morning, noon or night, come hail or shine, I can’t resist a glass of this delicious, full-bodied dry red on its own. Better still, though, grab a bottle and head for your favourite pizzeria. And don’t spare the mushrooms in the topping. Another glass please.

Written by John Rozentals

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