During my stay in New York, a few days ago, a group of us headed over to Greenwich Village to share a meal at Mas (farmhouse), a French American restaurant that carried the weight of many well-sung accolades from friends both local and back in Denver. Was it deserving of such high acclaim? In a word: undoubtedly.
Mas was quite the experience. Not only do they present those dining with an interchangeable, flexible three or six-course tasting menu option, they also encourage the customized ‘Chef tasting menu’ for those who trust the direction of an incredible chef…for those who revel in the element of surprise. We all simply voiced our likes, dislikes, allergies, and preferences… and voilá! Within minutes the six courses began, each reflective of our personal tastes. For someone who can never decide on what to get, I was in heaven.
Pairing a meal with such variety and mystery is nearly impossible. So the key here, much like Thanksgiving, is higher acid and lower tannins. That way, if presented with game, poultry, fish, or squash, one has the greatest possible potential for a decent or even excellent food and wine marriage.
The night was painted with 1er Cru Chablis, 1er Cru Morey St. Denis, and a rather interesting 2001 Crozes-Hermitage. The wine that took us all by surprise, though, and wore the most modest price tag, was the red wine we drank from Beaumes de Venise in the Rhone Valley: the 2005 Domaine de Durban Cru Beaumes de Venise Cuvee Prestige.
When I first saw this wine under ‘Reds by the Bottle,’ I was actually confused. Beaumes de Venise is renowned for its sweet white dessert wines (vin doux naturels) that are made from the Muscat grape. Although Durban makes these sweet fortified wines, they are one of the few producers that are consistently recognized for producing some of the only ageworthy, thought-provoking reds in this region that sits at the base of the famed Dentelles de Montmirail, a jagged chain of mountains in Vaucluse that are distinctive for their teeth-like structure. The Durban vineyards have been cultivated as such since 1156, though the 1960’s brought the Leydier family to control them and consequently higher acclaim.
The Cuvee Prestige is comprised of 75% Grenache (giving it the bright red cherry nose), 20% Syrah (for added structure and peppery spice), and 5% Mourvedre (just enough to shed a trace of garrigue and savory spices in the blend). Many at the table commented on its singularity—they couldn’t quite compare it to anything else. I had to agree. Though it couldn’t hide its Rhone Valley birthmark, it was… in a field of its own. And that made it intriguing for us all.
So check this wine out if you have a chance. And, if you’re in New York, put Mas on your must-do list of restaurants. It’s for serious foodies, without all the pretense.