Mas Amiel Maury 20 Year 500ml
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Hammond and I love fortified wines, and for me, there's no better way to finish a meal or top off the evening than a taste of Port, Sherry, Maderia, Banyuls, Sautern -- you get the idea. Sweet wines never seem to get the attention they deserve; however, fans of sipping these luscious gems are always on the prowl for new and exciting elixirs.
The good news is that most of the world's notable wine regions produce a celebrated, high-quality dessert wine. The bad news is that they're celebrated almost entirely on their home turf, and little if any is ever available for the export market. The best news: after visiting this property some years ago, I've finally been able to secure an order!
Mas Amiel is located in the southern corner of France, just north of Perpignan. Once off the national route, getting to the property provides your vehicle's suspension with a cruel workout on the slender, winding roads.
The property's colorful history began in 1816 when Raymond Etienne Amiel won the property from a local Bishop at the gaming table. Current owner Olivier Decelle has been running the property since 1999 and is adamantly dedicated to producing the region's historically significant sweet, fortified dessert wines.
Dessert wines from Maury are unique in a number of ways. The vineyards are planted on hills of schist and black marl, providing the wines with a distinct minerality and concentration seldom seen in fortified wines. The wines are also fermented and aged in unconventional ways. The Vintage 2015, after fortification, is aged in an oxygen-free environment, allowing the wine to develop optimum freshness and fruit intensity -- very similar to young vintage port with smoother tannins.
The 20 Year is even more fascinating. After fortification, this wine is stored in glass demi-johns and is placed outside to age for one year. It spends the next 19 years in huge, well-used 350 hectoliter/9200-gallon casks. The result is similar to a top-notch 20 year Tawny Port.
In the glass, the Vintage 2015 is all about dense, rich primary fruit. Dark plum, dark berry, black cherry, and crème-de-cassis wrap around notes of dark chocolate and pepper spice.
In the glass, the 20 Year Maury drinks like a cross between a 20 Year Tawny and Madeira. Aromas of candied fruit, apricot, and caramel greet you after a quick swirl. The palate is loaded with complexity featuring more caramel notes along with almond, hazelnut, peach, and a touch of smoke. Absolutely stunning example of Maury!