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The wines of Mas de Daumas Gassac, Languedoc, France

Vignoble Daumas Gassac, Haute Valée du Gassac, 34150 Aniane, France
Website: www.daumas-gassac.com Email: contact@daumas-gassac.com
Tel: +33 (0)4 67 57 71 28  Fax: +33 (0)467 574 103
UK agent: Les Caves de Pyrene (Tel: 01483 538 820)

This famous Languedoc estate occupies an important place in the history of French wine. Back in the 1970s Mas de Daumas Gassac showed the world that serious wine could be made in the Languedoc, which at that time was fully given to plonk production. Lots of plonk is still made in this enormous region, but in the wake of Daumas Gassac a sizeable band of quality producers have emerged, making high-quality authentic expressions of various Languedoc terroirs.

In recent years, Daumas Gassac has been rather eclipsed by some of the new stars. Has quality slipped here, or have others just done better? It is hard to say. These wines are tight and tannic in their youth, but as proved by the 1986 and 1988 vintages, they do age well, developing complexity on the way. They are not ‘big’ wines, although this is no bad thing; nor are they in an ‘international style’, which is a relief. Unusually for Languedoc wines, Cabernet Sauvignon is the key grape here. I’m not sure that Cabernet is ideal for the Languedoc. It sometimes has a tendency to greenness, and there’s a danger that the tannic structure never quite softens enough before the fruit recedes completely. But I suspect the 1998 will be lovely in 15 years time.

Total vineyard area is 40 ha (estate is 80 ha in all), surrounded by a forest. It’s based on a historic ‘terroir’ that was rediscovered in the 1970s by Henry Enjalbert, a professor of geography. The upper Gassac valley enjoys a cool microclimate, and the vineyards have been created in 50 small plots amidst the surrounding garrigue. Viticulture is organic.

For the red wines 80% of the grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, with the remainder a fascinating melange of Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Tannat, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, Grenache, Tempranillo, Voskehat (Armenia), Kontorni (Armenia), Salte (Syris) and some Georgian varieties. [Aside: wouldn’t it be fun to try a varietal Voskehat, or a Languedoc take on Salte? There’s an idea.]

The white is also highly-rated. It’s supposed to age well, but I think I prefer it in its youth. Decide for yourself! It’s a blend of Viognier, Petit Manseng and Chardonnay (25% of each), with the remaining quarter made up of grape varieties from Georgia, Armenia, Madeira and elsewhere.

Mas de Daumas Gassac Red 1986 Vin de Pays d'Oc
Fragrant spicy berry fruit nose. The open, herby palate is drying out a bit – the fruit is beginning to recede a touch – with spicy firm tannins and good acidity. Nicely evolved. Very good+

Mas de Daumas Gassac Red 1988 Vin de Pays d'Oc
Elegant, open nose displaying herby, leathery berry fruit. The palate is still quite tight with spicy tannins. Rich and nicely poised. Quite claret like and ageing nicely. Very good+

Mas de Daumas Gassac Red 1998 Vin de Pays d'Oc
The nose is dominated by elegant taut blackcurrant fruit with a minerally, chalky edge. Firm tannins on the palate which is tight and almost austere, with bright fruit. Youthful, I’d guess that this will age nicely for over a decade. Very good/excellent

Mas de Daumas Gassac White 2001 Vin de Pays d'Oc
A blend containing Chardonnay and Viognier. Pretty, ripe fruity nose with peachy fruit and a floral edge. Quite Viognier dominated, and very appealing. Very good/excellent

Mas de Daumas Gassac White 1995 Vin de Pays d'Oc
Deep coloured. Nutty nose with an intriguing sweet herby edge. Soft, honeyed, nutty palate is still alive. An interesting wine. Very good+

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