Mas de Daumas Gassac
Hérault, Languedoc, France
Elegance, finesse, and complexity
Often referred to as ‘Languedoc’s Château Lafite’, Mas de Daumas Gassac stands as a true icon of French wine. Since the first vintage in 1978, renowned wine critics, the likes of Hugh Johnson, Robert Parker, and Clive Coates MW, have praised the wines of Mas de Daumas Gassac for their remarkable elegance, finesse, and complexity.
Location: Hérault, Languedoc, France
Winemakers: Samuel, Gaël, Roman and Basile Guibert
Red varieties grown: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Tannat, Petit Verdot, Carmenère, Syrah, Pinot Noir and ten other rare, old varieties.
White varieties grown: Viognier, Chardonnay, Petit Manseng and Chenin and many other ones, including Bourboulenc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Petit Courbu, Muscat Ottonel, Muscat Petit grain, Muscat d’Alexandrie, Gros Manseng, Semillon, Neherleschol, Petite Arvine, Amigne, Sercial de Madère, Khondorni, Tchilar, Albarino, Falanghina, Fiano, Grechetto Todi.
Mas de Daumas Gassac
In the upper Gassac valley of Languedoc, surrounded by 4000 hectares of forest at about 500 metres of altitude, lies a world-class terroir.
The story of Mas de Daumas Gassac traces back to 1971, when Véronique and Aimé Guibert purchased an old farmhouse under the guidance of renowned geographer and professor, Henri Enjalbert, who recognized a Grand Cru terroir. The glacial sandstone soil, similar to that of Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, was both deep and perfectly drained, as well as rich in mineral oxides and poor in humus. Realizing their land’s potential, Véronique and Aimé Guibert planted their first Cabernet Sauvignon vines in 1972 and, a few years later, sought advice from Bordeaux oenology professor, Emile Peynaud, to produce a Grand Cru following traditional winemaking methods.
Benefiting from a cold microclimate with high diurnal temperature variation, keeping the vines cool at night even in the middle of the summer, Mas de Daumas Gassac has continued to grow the finest grapes with the ultimate balance of fruit, acidity, and tannic structure. Never above 14% in alcohol, the wines are marked by a remarkable freshness and elegance, with classic mediterranean aromas of thyme, rosemary, lavender, arbutus… While Cabernet Sauvignon continues to hold the centre stage there, the winery now produces white wines and rosés, and started a ‘cuvée Émile Peynaud’ in 2010, an homage to Emile Peynaud’s great contribution.
Mas de Daumas Gassac’s red wines are still predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon (typically around 80% in each blend), yet many other varieties contribute to their complexity, including Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Tannat, Petit Verdot, Carmenère, Syrah, Pinot Noir, among others. Similarly for the white wines, four varieties stand out in Viognier, Chardonnay, Petit Manseng, and Chenin Blanc, while many others are used in blends to create the refined wines that Mas de Daumas Gassac is known for today.
With Aimé Guibert’s passing in May 2016, the estate management stayed in the family and was taken over by four or their five sons, Samuel, Gaël, Roman and Basile. Transitioning from first to second generation, the estate has continued to focus on elegance and freshness, working hand in hand with their unique terroir. All the vines are uncloned (originating from massal selection) and planted in small areas of vines to preserve their natural environment. The soil is only fertilised with a compost made from Larzac sheep manure, and the tractors have been replaced with quad bikes, horse ploughing, and sheep grazing in the vineyards.