The First “First Growth” of the Languedoc – Tasting the New Release Wines from Mas de Daumas Gassac…

Within half a century, the pioneering winery of Mas de Daumas Gassac has reached the rare status of a “cult wine,” one of the few in the Languedoc region. After being identified in 1971 as a unique terroir by Professor Henri Enjalbert, 50 hectares of vineyards in the Gassac valley were planted on virgin soils using 40 different uncloned grape varieties, laying the foundations for the iconic whites and reds of Daumas Gassac.

It was Professor Emile Peynaud, the genius behind classic French wine making techniques who defined the vinification and maturation procedures at the Domaine, allowing for some truly unique terroir specific wines to be produced. The Noble red wine is made from vines planted on red glacial deposits and incorporates up to 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, blended with Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Tannat, Malbec, Nebbiolo, Dolcetto and others.

The domaine’s white is a blend of mainly four noble varieties including Viognier, Petit Manseng, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay, but can include up to 20 varieties in the final wine, many picked and co-fermented.

I recently tasted the domaine’s new releases in London with their importer , Les Caves de Pyrennes.

Mas de Daumas Gassac 2016 IGP Saint Guilhem le Desert Blanc, 14 Abv.

The 2016 IGP Saint Guilhem le Desert Blanc is a ripe, opulently fruited white made from a mix of Viognier, Petit Manseng, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. The nose initially offers up notes of white peach, tangerine peel, stem ginger and waxy green apples. Underneath the fruity fragrance lies a more complex melange of limestone, crushed gravel and dried baking herbs. The palate is full, opulent and quite glycerol, rolling around the tongue with real concentration and intensity. The fleshy weight of white citrus and white peach stone fruit is nicely counter balanced with fresh bright acids and a pithy, spicy minerality. A really delicious glassful of white.

(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Mas de Daumas Gassac 2015 IGP Saint Guilhem le Desert Rouge, 13.5 Abv.

The 2015 was a seriously good vintage in France and this is a seriously good red from Daumas Gassac. The 2015 IGP Saint Guilhem le Désert Rouge is a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with a smattering of multiple other varieties including Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo and Dolcetto. The nose is taut and tight, initially quite broody, offering complex notes of graphite, peppercorn spice, tobacco leaf, liquorice, incense and black currant spice before relaxing a little in the glass to show more fragrant, perfumed nuances of lavender, violets and dried garrique. The palate is quite classically proportioned, ripe and opulent yet fairly broody and restrained. Medium bodied, there is a real polish to the ripe mineral tannins that show a piquant grip and gravelly minerality before melting away into a melange of black berry confit, earthy black bramble berry fruits and spicy blueberry that has just the most subtle kiss of vanilla pod oak spice. Wonderfully compact and focused, this is an impressively regal wine from the vineyards of Aniane. Cellar this beauty for a few more years before cracking and then drink comfortably over a decade or two.

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

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