For more than thirty years, the Guibert family and Mas de Daumas Gassac have stood at the forefront of the quality revolution in the Languedoc. Once a region only known for its bulk wine production, today it serves as a hot spot for young wine producers who are eager to show the potential of its complex terroirs. And at the heart of this movement is the godfather of Languedoc’s greatest crus, Aimé Guibert. Though the Gassac Valley was already known for its wines in the time of Charlemagne, Professor of Geology Henri Enjalbert of the University of Bordeaux was the first to recognize the greatness of the powder-fine limestone and glacial deposits and their similarities to the famous terroirs of Burgundy. Aimé and his wife purchased the land in 1971, and under the mentorship of famous Bordeaux enologist Emile Peynaud, they set about growing and bottling the Languedoc’s first great cult wine, in spite of their wines’ humble appellation of Vin de Pays de l’Hérault.
While the intensity of the Languedoc sun can be a challenge to most vignerons, Mas de Daumas Gassac enjoys an exceptionally cooler climate, influenced by the breezes from the Cévennes Mountains to the north, which slow the ripening of the grapes and aid in the retention of natural acidity. The Guibert family respects the natural, forested landscape by planting vineyards in small lots. Although the land has been farmed without any chemicals or pesticides for thousands of years, the Guiberts, like most purists, are quick to sidestep categorization as “organic.” They’ve planted the valley to some 40 grape varietals over 50 hectares of land, achieving yields as low as 33 to 37 hl/ha. Today, Aimé’s son Gaël is responsible for the care of the vines.
Samuel Guibert, Aimé’s eldest son, now directs the winemaking at the estate. Grapes are harvested, sorted by hand and mostly de-stemmed (80-100%, depending on the vintage). Their Vin de Pays Blanc consists of Chardonnay, Viognier, Petit Manseng, and Chenin Blanc, with a small percentage dedicated to lesser known southern French varietals. The whites macerate with their skins for five to seven days and age for two to four months in stainless steel tanks. Their flagship Vin de Pays Rouge consists of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% from other varietals. The alcoholic and malolactic fermentations take place entirely in stainless steel vats. The non-Cabernet varietals normally ripen first and are fermented separately in a short 7- to 12-day cuvaison. This wine is then pressed and put aside. Once the Cabernet vats are almost finished fermenting, the non-Cabernet wine is added to the fermenting vats, which helps prolong the length of the cuvaison to roughly four weeks, after which time the wine is pressed into 228-L Burgundian barrels, of which 10-20% are new. The wine is then aged in barrel for 12 to 15 months, where it is racked every three months and fined with egg-whites before being bottled unfiltered. The final wines, praised by Hugh Johnson as “the only Grand Cru of the Midi,” have tremendous aging potential.
For more information, please see: daumas-gassac.com/fr
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