Under the Provençal sun, Mas Carlot is a beautiful oasis of rustic charm. Its foundations date back to the 17th century, with extensive renovations made in the 19th century, yet the presence of ancient Roman ruins suggests that this land was also being farmed at least 2000 years ago. Paul-Antoine Blanc, owner of Paris’ famous Le Pied de Cochon restaurant in Les Halles, first fell in love with the property in 1986. Paul sold the restaurant and moved here to Bellegarde, tending to the renovations of the winery and cellars. His daughter, Nathalie, followed him two years later after finishing her studies in enology and was transfixed by her new surroundings. She eventually fell in love with Cyril Marès of Mas de Bressades, literally the boy next door, and today, she runs the 75-hectare domaine. Energetic and passionate, Nathalie is regarded as one of the most talented winemakers of the Costières de Nîmes.
SUSTAINABLE FARMING IN THE HEART OF THE RHÔNE DELTA
AOC Costières de Nîmes is the southernmost appellation of the Rhône Valley. This area is known as the Rhône Delta, situated at the confluence of the Rhône, Gard, and Durance Rivers where the regions of Provence and the Languedoc meet. Only 20 miles from the Mediterranean coast, winters are mild and summers are hot and dry, tempered by the Mistral. The Mistral is a strong force in the Rhône. It can blow for days, creating an excellent microclimate for the grapes in which they may retain their acidity and be free of pests and mildew. This allows the Nathalie to eliminate all pesticides from their vineyards and embrace sustainable farming practices.
Nathalie farms red clay and limestone soils, filled with galets roulés, the rounded stones for which Châteauneuf-du-Pape is also famous. These stones insulate and protect the vines from temperature extremes. Most of Mas Carlot’s production is dedicated to red varietals, including Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. In whites, they farm Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier and Clairette—the latter of which is dedicated to their cuvee of AOC Clairette de Bellegarde. Most of their vineyards are situated at 230 meters above sea level and face the southeast. Mas Carlot is one of only four domaines to farm this micro-appellation. Through thoughtful pruning, Nathalie reduces yields to an average of 45 hectoliters per hectare (25 hectoliters per hectare in the Clairette de Bellegarde vineyards), one-third of what is permitted in the appellation.
SEPARATE VINIFICATIONS, DELICIOUS WINES, EXCELLENT VALUE
Nathalie is passionate about the details. Her ethic of sustainability is carried into the cellars, and she uses solar panels to power the winery. Each cuvee at Mas Carlot is unique, and Nathalie aims to translate the quality of their terroir in each bottle. Maintaining the freshness of the grapes is paramount. The whites, Marsanne-Roussanne “Tradition” and the Clairette de Bellegarde are cold-stabilized and are fermented in stainless steel tanks, with 20 percent of the Clairette vinified in two- to three-year barrels. Both whites age on their lees without a need to undergo malolactic fermentation. The rosé, a 50/50 blend of Grenache and Syrah, is also cold-stabilized and made entirely from free-run juice. The red varietals are all vinified separately before blending. The Grenache-Syrah “Tradition Rouge” is fermented in tank while “Les Enfants Terribles,” a tongue-in-cheek tribute to their four children and the unruly Mourvèdre grape, is partially aged in barrels. The reds are intensely aromatic with abundant notes of the native garrigue, roses, violets, spices, and fresh berry character. Not only are these expressions of her terroir delicious, but they also offer excellent value.
- Vineyard Area: 70 ha
- Soil Type: Red clay and limestone soils with galets roulés
- Varieties Cultivated: Grenache, Clairette, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne
- Annual Production: 400,000 bottles
- Country: France
- Winemaker: Nathalie Blanc-Marès
- Topography: 230 meters above sea level, facing southeast