The story of Mas de Daumas Gassac is one of vision, enterprise, passion and pride.
When the Guiberts first purchased their farm (the mas) in the charming Gassac valley they little realised that they had a particular micro-climate which would give them the potential to make great wines. A visiting professor from Bordeaux, one Henri Enjalbert, identified a particular red soil that was common to certain great estates in the Médoc and Grand Cru Burgundies. Under the thick garrigue scrub and shrubs covering the Arboussas hills, he found some 40 hectares of perfectly drained soil, poor in humus and vegetable matter, rich in mineral oxide. The terroir provides the three elements necessary for a potential Grand Cru: deep soil ensuring the vines’ roots delve deep to seek nourishment; perfectly drained soil ensuring vines’ roots are unaffected by humidity; poor soil meaning that vines have to struggle to survive, an effort which creates exceptionally fine aromas.
Rock, scrub and tree clearing began in 1971 and the first vines, principally Cabernet Sauvignon, were planted on the 1.6ha plot. You only have to stand in the vineyards to engage with the subtleties of these wines. The hill is thick with garrigue; strong warm scents of wild herbs imprint themselves in the air; the quality of light is fantastic. The vines are planted in small clearings amongst a myriad of Mediterranean wild plants and herbs: bay, thyme, rosemary, lavender, laburnum, fennel, wild mint, lentisque, strawberry trees which all lend their aromas to the wine. It’s all part of the ‘terroir’ effect, a combination of soil, climate and environment that sets one wine apart from another. Sadly this is an effect that is lost in modern monoculture, where huge areas are cleared of all vegetation except vines.
At nightfall, the cold air from the Larzac floods into the Gassac valley, with the result that, even in the height of summer, the vineyards benefit from cool nights and moderate daytime temperatures. The micro-climate is a huge factor in creating the outstanding complexity and finesse of the red wines. Since the beginning, the operation has grown somewhat and they now produce a number of labels and price ranges, but the core ethos remains. The flagship wines are still referred to as the Grand Cru of the Languedoc, whilst their 'everyday' wines represent outstanding quality for the money. It's for this reason they are one of our favourite estates.