2018 Mas de Daumas Gassac
It was improbable, if not impossible, right from the start:
Although the Gassac Valley was first planted with vines under the aegis of Charlemagne, it wasn’t until 1970, while visiting on summer vacation, that the Guibert family noticed the abandoned farmhouse, vines and abbey on the Daumas property. There they founded the winery Daumas Gassac.
It was an improbable beginning for what famed oenologist Emile Peynaud, winemaker for four of Bordeaux’s five First Growths, would term “the Birth of a Grand Cru.” Yet Charlemagne, the penultimate lover of wine, all those centuries before, knew what he was doing. Gassac’s steeply sloped, Ice Age scree-covered hillsides rival the best soils in Burgundy’s Cote d’Or. As Peynaud commented after just one trip around the property, “it is quite possible to make Grand Cru wine here.”
What came next was nearly impossible – selling the wine. You see, while the Guiberts and Peynaud loved the land, they were told by wine merchants at the time that the Languedoc is a hicksville full of farmers who are bete comme ses pieds. Indeed, even the French government was against them, forcing their wines to be designated under the humble legal label “vin de table” (and in defiance, the Guibert family still labels them as such).
But the Guiberts persevered. Using Peynaud’s contacts, they took franc de pied Cabernet cuttings from Bordeaux’s First Growths and replanted the property. Although it took many years, by 1982, the Gault Millau (France’s preeminent wine guide) proclaimed Daumas Gassac’s wines “the Lafite of the Languedoc.” In 1986, America’s own Robert Parker described Daumas Rouge as “Latour-esque.”
High praise indeed for a wine of such humble origin and unassuming price.
But the Guiberts didn’t stop there. Fiercely opposed to the French government’s scheme to rip out the Languedoc’s traditional vine varieties, they partnered with several local farmers to produce the Moulin de Gassac Rose. In so saving the Languedoc’s heritage, this wine would be named “best in show” at a London competition of roses – beating out much more famous wines and regions at asking prices far above this modest wine’s.
Improbable, and impossible, but through heroic perseverance, the Guibert family has succeeded in bringing the wines to the attention of the world and also, after a 13-year break, finally back to Wisconsin. We have two on offer today, meeting the needs of all your summer drinking activities – from a picnic by the lake with rose, to a formal meal of roasted lamb with the rouge. Both are scrumptious.
The rose’s beautifully woven texture rests on a backbone of ripe fruit and mineral-driven flavors. It is a DRY rose, made from Grenache. Aromas of freshly picked strawberries, white peaches, hints of tarragon and rosemary spring from the glass. Its full-bodied texture is compellingly dry, leaving mineral hints of the French countryside after a light rain. The finish is crisp and dry, refreshing, urging you to drink the next glass – a perfect bottle for sharing in the afternoon sun.
The pedigree of the Daumas Gassac Rouge hints at the power and longevity of the wine itself: born of the Languedoc’s greatest Cru translated by own-rooted First Growth Cabernet vines, this is very serious wine. Vivid and swirling aromas of black cherries, cassis, cedar, wood smoke, and graphite invite the drinker into the ultimate drinking experience. The wild countryside plays a part: touches of olives, roasted game, and garrigue herbs add layers of complexity. The palate is succulent with integrated tannins, giving proof to the longevity of stacked and packed wine. Indeed, just two weeks ago in London, the Guiberts hosted a tasting of all the Daumas Gassac Rouge wines they have ever made, back to 1978. All were in top form!
Don’t miss these two stunning wines.