Some time ago we chatted to Jean-Claude Mas on a previous visit to Australia. He is the man who reinvigorated the modest output of his traditional family vineyards in the South West of France and, in just a few years, has produced more than one globetrotting brand.
His highest-flying label is called Arrogant Frog, but the man himself is anything but.
He returned from a career in other industries to take over the family’s venerable winemaking holdings. He knew that work was needed to launch them into a new millennium.
He observed the success of the New World countries with their clear-labelled, clean-flavoured, smartly named wines and cheekily decided to take them on.
A Delightful Landing Downunder
In late winter sunshine, we caught up with him again at one of Sydney’s perfect dining spots… Regatta Restaurant and Bar on Rose Bay. Damien Pignolet (now which country could he be from?) presented lunch with the skill and passion he brought to Claude’s and Bistro Moncur.
On the menu Sugar Cured Ocean Trout with Fennel & Fresh Herbs, Fillet Steak Café de Paris, finishing with a Goat Cheese Crouton Salad. Unfussy, bright, fresh dishes bouncing with clear flavours, a perfect table for the wines, seven in all, with the Arrogant Frog winking from each label.
The Sauvignon Blanc was earthier and more complex than most local products, a richer mouthful. J-C finds most New World SBs too acid and lemony. He is striving for more creaminess and softness especially for the Asian market.
The Viognier was perfectly matched with the subtly enhanced seafood. Smooth but not oily, touches of gooseberries and white fruits. J-C was surprised we don’t have more in Australia, it is so good with the fusion foods we are embracing.
The reds were served building in interest and finesse. A 2015 Syrah, 2015 Cab Merlot, 2013 Cab Merlot and a 2006 Special Edition Cab Merlot.
The Syrah (Shiraz to us Aussies) was full-bodied but surprisingly mellow in a young wine, velvety ripe and spicy.
The Cab Merlots, obviously a preferred blend in this district, all showed an exuberance of fruit, not shy but not too complicated either. Generous and mouthfllling. Well balanced, enjoyable without further cellaring. Just what you have with steak.
The Rosé, made from syrah grapes given their own designated vineyard, stood up with soft power to the goat cheese, both gently pushing their flavour agendas and entwining in a delicious embrace.
Pleasure awaiting you
Arrogant Frog is celebrating 11 years in the Australian market which is the world’s second largest consumer after Holland. Out of 5 million bottles enjoyed around the world we certainly take our share.
Are why wouldn’t we? Jean-Claude and his team cleverly identified what we want. Bright clear flavours behind a cheeky label. Everyday wines for everyday pleasure, a modestly priced stepping stone to the more luxurious offerings from his other chateaux in the Languedoc.