Mas Jullien

Mas-Jullien-logo Olivier Jullien (4) Mas-Jullien-l-heralt
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The Mas Jullien is a young estate with a long history deeply rooted in the hillsides of Languedoc. Olivier Jullien grew up in the vineyards that his father and grandfather worked. As a boy in the late 70’s, Olivier witnessed the winegrowers’ uprisings in the region provoked by economic difficulties that beset (and continue to plague) many small, independent farmers, which resulted in the death of two men. The vineyards of Languedoc were in a critical state. Decades of over cropping to produce inexpensive wine with little thought given to quality were coming to a painful but necessary end. The young generation of the time wanted nothing more than to leave viticulture behind. Nobody wanted vineyards in Languedoc. Olivier was one of the pioneers of the region. He believed that the terroir had the potential to make great wines and he had the courage to prove it. After taking his degree in viticulture and oenology in 1985, he began farming some of his family’s vineyards and looking around the area for the best vineyards to purchase. He was only twenty years old when he converted some of the outbuildings on the family estate into a cellar and began vinifying and bottling his wines under the Mas Jullien label. In a touching turn of events, Olivier’s success and passion inspired his father to withdraw from the cooperative and create his own winery, Mas Cal Demoura, in 1993. Or, as Olivier says proudly: “with this courageous and highly symbolic action, he quite simply became himself”.

I had the immense good fortune to be referred to Olivier at the very outset of his career by an American friend who was importing wines from one of the cooperatives in the region. Our first encounter, late in a winter afternoon in the mid-1980s, was electric with anticipation, enthusiasm, even revolution. There was not much to admire in the Languedoc at that point but here was a creative genius whose moral mandate was to prove the worth of his land. His triumph is to be found in the bottles of wine he has produced and continues to produce that are, quite simply, among the most important and compelling wines of our portfolio. The night before I put the finishing touches on this profile, I spent an hour or so poking through our private cellar to admire our “Mas Jullien Collection”, wines, both white and red, from the last 25 years of our collaboration, all of which are still impeccable and soul-satisfying. We are deeply indebted to Olivier Jullien for his craft and for his friendship.

Mas Jullien is composed of 15 hectares of vineyards scattered around the village of Jonquières, north of Montpellier, 40 km inland from the Mediterranean Sea. The vines grow on the rocky terraces of the plateau of Larzac at the foot of Mont Baudille, culminating at an altitude of 900 metres, at the limit of their cultivation of the vine in the area. Each of his parcels has its own character, arising from differences in altitude, exposition, wind, cool air currents, and proximity to the river. Soil types vary and include rocky limestone, schist, clay and alluvial deposits. These variables give each parcel its own distinctive personality. He has recently acquired property in the village of Saint Privat, a neglected, somewhat isolated area, that Olivier is convinced will produce rustic wines of interest.

Olivier places his trust in the diversity of terroir, and he carefully observes and respects the environment. He has pulled out vineyards to re-plant trees in an effort to restore the balance of the local ecosystem. Olivier is a perfectionist in everything he does, particularly in his vineyards. From the cultivation of the soil, severe pruning, sélection massale, organic treatments following the phases of the moon, use of natural compost; an intimate relationship with his vineyards is evident. Olivier’s philosophy regarding the role of the different grape varieties is less concerned with the individual expression of each grape than with its contribution to the balance of the final wine after fermentation. He uses Carignan for its freshness and body, Cinsault for finesse and delicacy, Syrah for its aroma and color, Grenache for its breed, complexity, and spice, and Mourvèdre for its race and structure. For his whites, he uses Grenache Blanc for richness, Chenin Blanc and Carignan Blanc for acidity, Viognier for its primary aromas, Clairette and Roussanne for their oxidative notes, characteristic of southern wines. The Mas Jullien is farmed organically in all ways except for “official certification”.

Olivier follows a few simple yet uncompromising rules when vinifying his wines:

“take the time necessary to allow nature to complete its work; accompany the life of the wine without directing it, accepting the risks and differences; maintain impeccable hygiene and meticulously carry out each task in the cellar; leave the option open to react and follow instinct and curiosity; choose techniques and material that do not distort the wine; and have faith in the competence of the people who help produce the wines.”

Mas Jullien produces red wines using traditional methods. The harvest is partially destemmed before crushing. Each lot of grapes is vinified separately in stainless tanks and then is racked into barrel (demi-muid size and large ovals, the newest of which are made by Stockinger, the Austrian barrel-maker of quality). Olivier does not follow convention, he prefers to play by his own rules. He has reduced the number of cuvées he produces, believing that by blending all of the different components, he can create more complex wines. Note, however, that the blends mentioned in the individual descriptions of the wines that follow are general guidelines not strict rules.

Mas-Jullien-Coteaux-du-Languedoc-Rose Mas Jullien Rosé This is a siagnée rosé made from juice that is bled off the skins of red grapes from Jullien’s vineyards on the Terraces du Larzac. In descending order of percentage, it is Cinsault, Carignan, and Mourvèdre, though the blend can change from vintage to vintage. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel with native yeast, aging in Stockinger foudre of mixed ages. Truly a wine of terroir, this is the one of the most structured rosés we see each season, a somewhat wild wine of deep, earthy complexity that does beautifully at the table with virtually any grilled fare. Organic and Biodynamic.
Mas-Jullien-l-heralt Vin de Pays de l’Herault Blanc The entrancing white wine of Mas Jullien attests to the complex and exceptional qualities that can be expressed by the local grapes of Clairette and Carignan Blanc which form the base of this wine. Chenin Blanc and Roussanne and Grenache Blanc are present as well. This wine is released almost two years after harvest and will age gracefully while developing a large palette of nuance and silky texture that is rarely seen in even the most exalted of appellations known for their white wines. Witness, for example, our recent experience (2010) with the Mas Jullien white from the 1986 vintage. Organic and Biodynamic.
Mas-Jullien-Les-etats-d-ame Coteaux du Languedoc Rouge Les Etats d’Ame The cuvée “Les Etats d’Ame” is Grenache based (40%) blended with Syrah, Cinsault and a touch of Carignan (that is the frequent, but not constant, assemblage). This wine is crafted to capture the terroir of this section of the Languedoc while providing a wine more “gentle” and enticing in its youth than the more powerful companion. Organic and Biodynamic.
Mas-Jullien-Cuvee-Carlan Mas Jullien Cuvée Carlan Legend has it that Olivier Jullien’s friend, Carlan, was walking in the forest, looking for a scenic spot to practice his guitar, when he came across a vineyard in disrepair. He reported his findings to Olivier, who purchased and restored the vineyard. (This was in the early-mid 2000s; our first vintage of the wine was 2009.) Unlike the rest of Olivier’s holdings, which are planted on predominantly limestone soil, “Carlan” features schist, sandstone, and iron, and is planted at 240 meters above sea level. The majority of the vines are 75 years old, with some “younger” vines at around 45 years of age. The blend is 60% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, and 10% the other varieties that make up Olivier Jullien’s red cuvées. The combination of terroir and cépage give this wine a more fruit-forward profile than Mas Jullien’s signature red, as well as his “L’États d’Âme bottling, which both come from poor limestone soils and feature less Grenache (if any). Though “Carlan” is made using the same traditional, unhurried methods, it shows a softness of structure that make a nice contrast to the limestone spines of the other two wines. Organic and Biodynamic.
Mas-Jullien-Languedoc-Rge Coteaux du Languedoc Rouge Mas Jullien A tour de force of elegance and power that is unrivalled for its dignity and stature amongst the wines of the Languedoc. A solid dose of Mourvedre married to Syrah and Carignan (old vines) produce a wine that is restrained in its youth, always exceedingly well-balanced and built for the long-haul. Organic and Biodynamic.
Mas Jullien “Lous Rougeos”: Lous Rougeos (Occitan for “Les Rougeots”) is Olivier’s highest-altitude vineyard, a west-facing plot situated above the village of Saint Privat at 400 to 450 meters altitude. Composed of Carignan and Syrah, it is fermented and aged identically to Carlan above. However, given its different altitude, exposition, and cepage, the final wine is an altogether different beast. A beautiful, ringing acidity in this 2014 carries the drinker’s mind far away from the stereotypical heat of the Languedoc, and the wine’s overall impression of mineral-drenched freshness would be impressive even in the context of the Northern Rhone—or of Burgundy, for that matter. Olivier has always loved and respected Carignan for its particular affinity to the soils and climate of this part of the Languedoc, and for its ability to express profound minerality. This is a don’t-miss wine for those curious to see just how much finesse and verve a genius grower can coax out of a great terroir in the Languedoc. Organic and Biodynamic.
2013 Mas Jullien “Autour de Jonquieres”: Aged an additional year in barrel compared to the “Carlan” and the “Lous Rougeos”—in this case, a combination of demi-muids and large foudres—“Autour de Jonquieres” is closest in spirit to Olivier’s classic and beloved Mas Jullien “estate” rouge. Built on the back of old-vines Mourvedre (40%) planted in poor limestone soils, this cuvee contains roughly equal proportions Carignan and Syrah as well, also from very old, minuscule-yielding vines. This 2013 displays that uncanny combination of elegance and power that characterizes so many of France’s truly great wines. It is both rugged and refined, both tenacious and supple, with a harmony of elements that suggests great cellaring potential. In fact, although this wine is by no means tough or difficult at the moment, it will undoubtedly reveal increasingly complex pleasures over the next two decades at least—as bottle after bottle of Mas Jullien pulled from our collection over the years has so emphatically proven. For its complexity, profound terroir expression, visceral pleasure, and long age-ability, we wager that there are few greater values for serious red wine to be found in all of France than Mas Jullien. Organic and Biodynamic.
Download Mas-Jullien tech sheet
Domaine NameMAS JULLIEN
Family/Owners NameJULLIEN Olivier
How many years has the family owned the domaine?Created in 1985 by Olivier JULLIEN
How many hectares of vines are owned?20 hectares
Are your vineyards or wines Organic or Biodynamic Certified? If yes, in the EU? In the US? If no, are you in the process of becoming certified? When?Organic and Biodynamic
Describe your vineyard management practices (e.g. low-intervention, organic, biodynamic, standard, etc.).Field work mainly by hand : pruning, de-budding, training vines on wires …Soil work by tractor
PLEASE ALSO ADDRESS THE FOLLOWING IN YOUR REPLY: Do you do field work and harvest manually? By machine? By horse? Do you practice green harvest? Leaf thinning?How do you fertilize?Green harvest et leaf-thinning if necessary. Homemade compost
Do you typically sell or buy any grapes? Please specify.No
Do you sell off any of your wine en vrac?No
WINE 1AUTOUR DE JONQUIERES
GENERAL INFORMATION
AppellationAOP TERRASSES DU LARZAC
Cepage/Uvaggio40 % Carignan, 40 % Mourvèdre, 20 % Syrah
%ABVAlc 13.5% – 14 % by vol
# of bottles produced25000
Grams of Residual Sugar
VINEYARD AND GROWING INFORMATION
Vineyard/lieu dit name(s) and locationsSeveral lieux-dits near the village of Jonquières
Exposures and slope of vineyardsTable-land
Soil Types(s)Limestone gravels
Average vine age (per vineyard)35 years
Average Vine Density (vines/HA)5000-6000 vines/ha
Approximate harvest date(s)From sepember 5 to October 5
PLEASE SHARE ANY NOTES ABOUT HARVEST/GROWING SEASON FOR THIS WINE IN THIS VINTAGEGood, rain, dry, hot, fresh
HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO PREVIOUS VINTAGES?Rainy spring, Variable summer, Good to hot Autumn
WINEMAKING/CELLAR INFORMATION
% whole cluster, % destemmedNo
Fermentation: vessel type and sizeMainly concrete tanks, and few stainless steel tanks
Duration of cuvaison15 to 20 days
Duration of contact with lees1 to 2 years
Select or indigenous yeast?Indigenous yeasts
PLEASE ADDRESS THE FOLLOWING, IF APPLICABLE: pump-overs, punch-downs, racking, movement/transfer of wine done by gravity or pumping?), battonnage, malolactic fermentation allowed, chaptalizationPunching-down, pumping-over, racking, malolactic fermentation
Elevage: vessel type(s) and size(s)Barrels 600 l and foudre
Duration of elevage2 years
Duration of bottle ageing before release to US market6 months
Do you practice fining and filtration? If yes, please describeIt depend the vintage, if yes, with egg white
Do you add sulfur? If so when and how much? How much sulfur remains in the wine at release?Yes : -On the grape harvest. After the malolactic fermentation. Total SO2 about 20 and 40 mg/l
PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS FINISHED WINE FROM THIS VINTAGE. HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO PREVIOUS VINTAGES?Well-balance, fruits, lots of structure…
WINE 2BLANC
GENERAL INFORMATION
AppellationIGP PAYS D’HERAULT
Cepage/Uvaggio70 % Carignan blanc et 30 % Chenin
%ABVAlc 13 % by vol
# of bottles produced15000
Grams of Residual Sugar
VINEYARD AND GROWING INFORMATION
Vineyard/lieu dit name(s) and locationsSeveral lieux-dits
Exposures and slope of vineyardsTable-land
Soil Types(s)Limestone
Average vine age (per vineyard)40 years
Average Vine Density (vines/HA)4500 to 8000 vines/ha
Approximate harvest date(s)From September 1st to September 27
WINEMAKING/CELLAR INFORMATION
Fermentation: vessel type and sizeBarrels 600l
Duration of contact with lees1 year
Select or indigenous yeast?Indigenous yeasts for Carignan and select yeasts for Chenin
PLEASE ADDRESS THE FOLLOWING, IF APPLICABLE: pump-overs, punch-downs, racking, movement/transfer of wine done by gravity or pumping?), battonnage, malolactic fermentation allowed, chaptalizationSettling, batonnage, racking. Malolactic fermentation
Elevage: vessel type(s) and size(s)Barrels 600 l
Duration of elevage1 year
Duration of bottle ageing before release to US market8 months
Do you practice fining and filtration? If yes, please describeFining with Bentonite. Cellulose filtration
Do you add sulfur? If so when and how much? How much sulfur remains in the wine at release?Yes : -On the grape harvest. Racking, Bottling. Total SO2 : 50 to 60 mg/l
WINE 3ROSÉ
GENERAL INFORMATION
AppellationCOTEAUX DU LANGUEDOC
Cepage/UvaggioCarignan, Cinsault, Mourvèdre
%ABVAlc 13% – 13,5 % by vol
# of bottles produced15000
Grams of Residual Sugar
VINEYARD AND GROWING INFORMATION
Vineyard/lieu dit name(s) and locationsSeveral lieux-dits
Exposures and slope of vineyardsTable-land
Soil Types(s)Limestone
Average vine age (per vineyard)15 years
Average Vine Density (vines/HA)4000 to 5000 vines/ha
Approximate harvest date(s)September
WINEMAKING/CELLAR INFORMATION
% whole cluster, % destemmedDe-stemming
Fermentation: vessel type and sizeStainless steel tank
Duration of cuvaisonFew hours
Duration of contact with lees6 months
Select or indigenous yeast?Both according to the vintages
PLEASE ADDRESS THE FOLLOWING, IF APPLICABLE: pump-overs, punch-downs, racking, movement/transfer of wine done by gravity or pumping?), battonnage, malolactic fermentation allowed, chaptalizationMacerated Rosé. Pressing after maceration. No malolactic fermentation
Elevage: vessel type(s) and size(s)Stainless steel tank
Duration of elevage6 months
Do you practice fining and filtration? If yes, please describeFining with bentonite. Cellulose filtration
Do you add sulfur? If so when and how much? How much sulfur remains in the wine at release?SO2 before settling, racking and bottling. Total SO2 : 50 mg/l
PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS FINISHED WINE FROM THIS VINTAGE. HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO PREVIOUS VINTAGES?
WINE 4CARLAN
GENERAL INFORMATION
AppellationAOP TERRASSES DU LARZAC
Cepage/Uvaggio50 % Grenache, 30 % Carignan, 15 % Cinsault, 15 % Syrah
%ABVAlc 14,5 % by vol
# of bottles produced5000
Grams of Residual Sugar
VINEYARD AND GROWING INFORMATION
Vineyard/lieu dit name(s) and locationsCarlan
Exposures and slope of vineyardsEast exposure. Drops 200m
Soil Types(s)Schist and sandstone
Average vine age (per vineyard)40 years
Average Vine Density (vines/HA)4500 vines /ha
Approximate harvest date(s)September 15 to October 15
WINEMAKING/CELLAR INFORMATION
% whole cluster, % destemmedDestemmed
Fermentation: vessel type and sizeConcrete tank
Duration of cuvaison15 days
Duration of contact with lees1 year
Select or indigenous yeast?Indigenous yeasts
PLEASE ADDRESS THE FOLLOWING, IF APPLICABLE: pump-overs, punch-downs, racking, movement/transfer of wine done by gravity or pumping?), battonnage, malolactic fermentation allowed, chaptalizationPunching-down, pumping-over, racking, malolactic fermentation
Elevage: vessel type(s) and size(s)Barrels 600 l
Duration of elevage14 to 16 months
Do you practice fining and filtration? If yes, please describeFining with egg white
Do you add sulfur? If so when and how much? How much sulfur remains in the wine at release?Total SO2 : 30 to 40 mg/l
WINE 5LOUS ROUGEOS
GENERAL INFORMATION
AppellationAOP TERRASSES DU LARZAC
Cepage/Uvaggio50 % Carignan, 40 % Syrah, 10 % Grenache
%ABVAlc 13,5 % by vol
# of bottles produced6000
Grams of Residual Sugar
VINEYARD AND GROWING INFORMATION
Vineyard/lieu dit name(s) and locationsLous Rougeos
Exposures and slope of vineyardsSouth exposure, Altitude 450 m
Soil Types(s)Limestone
Average vine age (per vineyard)40 years
Average Vine Density (vines/HA)5000 to 8000 vines/ha
Approximate harvest date(s)From September 20 to October 20
WINEMAKING/CELLAR INFORMATION
% whole cluster, % destemmedDestemmed
Fermentation: vessel type and sizeConcrete tank
Duration of cuvaison15 days
Select or indigenous yeast?Indigenous yeasts
PLEASE ADDRESS THE FOLLOWING, IF APPLICABLE: pump-overs, punch-downs, racking, movement/transfer of wine done by gravity or pumping?), battonnage, malolactic fermentation allowed, chaptalizationPunching-down, pumping-over, racking. Malolactic fermentation
Elevage: vessel type(s) and size(s)Barrels 600 l
Duration of elevage14 to 16 months
Duration of bottle ageing before release to US market4 to 6 months
Do you practice fining and filtration? If yes, please describeFining with egg white
Do you add sulfur? If so when and how much? How much sulfur remains in the wine at release?Total SO2 : 30 to 40 mg

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LANGUEDOC AND CORBIERES …. LANGUEDOCA huge variety of terroirs exist within the Languedoc’s vastness, and one particularly great one is having its moment: the Terrasses du Larzac, a zone just north of Montpellier and inland from the Mediterranean. The number of wine-producing domaines there has ballooned from 30 to 110 over the past decade, as […]

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Mas Jullien Rosé Wrap-up

Olivier Jullien‘s rosé, from the craggy high-altitude vineyards of the Terrasses du Larzac, sits alongside Chateau Pradeaux and Chateau Simone in that very slim category of rosés that improve and develop with a few years of bottle age. Whereas, saignée rosés sometimes suffer from heaviness and unnecessary fruit weight, Olivier’s offers the same fresh, lifted […]

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