Daumas GassacAncient Art of Winemaking | 0 Comments
Daumas Gassac: Ancient Art of Winemaking
A Cult Wine
Within 30 years the Mas de Daumas Gassac wines have reached the rare status of “cult wine” that is only given to a few exceptional estates. This is due to the label’s unique history and the unexplained terroir and cool microclimate that contribute to its flavour.
An Ancient Vineyard
No less than St. Benoit of Aniane, one of Charlemagne’s counselors, created the vineyard in the Gassac Valley circa 780 A.D. There is history that suggests that Saint Benoit had Charlemagne taste the first wines made in this magical valley. Thus, the Grand Crus of Daumas Gassac were born like most famous great wines in the shadow of a prestigious abbey.
A Fabulous Terroir
The soil of Daumas Gassac is made of red powder, rock fragments, and limestone “grezes” formed during the Ice Age (Riss, Mindel and Guntz glaciations).
The soil combines all of the characteristics necessary to produce a great wine:
• 30 to 50 meters deep for the roots to grow far
• Well-drained that prevents moisture on the roots
• Rich in minerals and poor in nutrients making the vines from any chemical fertilizers
This terroir was discovered in the 1970’s by Henri Enjalbert, a famous Bordeaux geologist.
Cool Microclimate Amidst The Languedoc Heat
Every night, the cool air of the Larzac (850 m altitude) flows down into the Gassac Valley. This preserves the subtle, fresh, and complex nature of Daumas Gassac wines.
Surrounded By Forest
We were determined to respect the wild splendor of the Upper Valley of the Gassac, hence, our choice to create only small vineyards, like clearings lost amid the vast Garrigue forest of the Languedoc. There are over 50 small vineyards in clearings of 45 beneath the soil hectares within a vast expanse of 110 hectares of forest. The roots scents and flavours from the Garrigue, thyme, lavender, and mint, add to the rich complexity of Daumas Gassac wines.
Organic and Traditional Viticulture
We do not use chemical fertilizers or any other synthetic products at Daumas Gassac. We only use Larzac sheep manure-based compost. The large Garrigue forest that surrounds the valley of the Gassac is the home for many birds and insects that keep the vine’s predators in balance.
A Thousand Year Old Underground Chai
The ancient wine cellar, set in the underground part of a Gallo-Roman mill, hosts four hundred Bordeaux merrain-oak barrels, one seventh of which are replaced every year.
The underground environment provides constant temperature and perfect hygrometry, ideal conditions for traditional wine maturing. Below the foundation, two cold water springs provide a natural air-conditioning that ensures an extremely slow alcoholic fermentation over 8 to 10 days. Only such a slow process allows the appearance of those admirable complex flavours, which all but vanish in the fast fermentations of modern techniques. Time not only brings wisdom, but also rich flavours.
Winemaking As Defined By Emile Peynaud
The specification of winemaking and wine aging is that of Emile Peynaud, the famed modern genius of oenology. long fermentations and macerations; maturing in wood; light fining with egg whites; no filtration; beautiful noble tannins that saturate the wine, securing a rare lifespan of much more than 25 years. Without the imprint of Emile Peynaud, Daumas Gassac would not be what it is today with its microclimate similar to that of Burgundy and the vines and winemaking techniques similar to Bordeaux.Somehow, in spite of its Cévenol-Languedocian nationality, Daumas Gassac appears mysteriously to be a link between the Garonne and Saône vineyards.
Ancient Vines From Before The Cloning Era
In the 1950s, the “industrial” approach entered the realm of agriculture. For vines, clonal selection became a must and the average yields of the previous centuries doubled. The originality of flavours began to disappear. We do not believe in using cloned vines. We plant only the old strains used before cloning to ensure maximum flavour and low yields.The Daumas Gassac vineyard is thus a living museum of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Manseng, Viognier etc. before the advent of cloned vines; limited yields with an extraordinary organoleptic richness.
Grape Harvesting The Traditional Way
Grapes are handpicked in 20 kg baskets. The wine is born in the farmhouse, as it was in ancient Europe. Each bottle is reminiscent of the merry harvesting festivities, the songs of boys and girls from all over the world, gathering for the harvest. We do not use any of the gloomy, noisy harvesting machines that swallow up all leaves, snails and caterpillars that may be present among the grapes.Only the beautiful, healthy, mature grapes, picked by an attentive hand find their way into the vats.
The Traditional Small Yields Of The Past
We produce thirty five to forty hectolitres per hectare that means three to six thousand kilos of grapes per hectare, or just one glass of wine per square metre, but of real wine, witness to the unique character of its terroir. These figures should be compared to the twenty to thirty thousand kilos of grapes per hectare harvested in the new wine-producing world. With such enormous yields, one does not make a vintage any longer, but an “industrial” beverage that needs enhancement from additives.
A Noble Red Wine
The Red vineyard is 75% made of the king vine, Cabernet Sauvignon not cloned, such as it reigned supreme in Medoc before 1914. Our vines are of the ancient strain of Cabernet-Sauvignon, not cloned, that yield some 35 hectolitres per hectare versus 80 to 200 hectolitres per hectare for the cloned modern Cabernet Sauvignon of today. Other not cloned varieties: Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Tannat, Petit Verdot and Carmenere, as well as some 10 rare ancient varieties.
Winemaking “à la Emile Peynaud”: long fermentations and macerations; maturing in wood; light fining with egg whites; no filtration; beautiful noble tannins that saturate the wine, securing a rare lifespan of much more than 25 years.
Daumas Gassac, a rare example of a noble red wine that guarantees impressive tertiary aromas after a few years of age, while proving to be deliciously drinkable in its youth.
A Subtle White Wine
A belt of Lutetian limestone rocks of a dazzling white colour surround the hills of red glacial “grèzes” along the Gassac stream. There lies the other exceptional terroir, the origin of the great Daumas Gassac white wine.The cool microclimate of the valley produces a remarkably high natural acidity, which protects the wonderfully broad palette of aromas. The white vineyard is 90% made of four different grapes: Viognier, Petit Manseng, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. The blending of four main grape varieties with a host of secondary ones gives birth to a Grand Cru, adding purity to freshness, filling the palate with wonderful fruity flavours sustained by a smooth texture.Original winemaking consisting of skin maceration at 10°C for 10 days, followed by 3 weeks of fermentation at a low temperature, followed by fossil-earth filtration.
One should drink it within its first three years to fully savour the fruit aromas. Lovers of white Daumas Gassac, bear in mind: If you keep your wine beyond 4 years, you will experience a change; starting on the 4th (or 5th, 6th) year, a surprising mutation will occur, resulting in new flavours of rich honey.
SAS Moulin de Gassac
The Grand Crus wines of Mas de Daumas Gassac, are made exclusively from the magical terroir of the Gassac Valley. Since 1971, the Guibert family has planted over thirty non-cloned grape varieties on this unique terroir - red glacial soil for the red grape varieties and white Lutetian limestone for the white grape varieties. This soil has never suffered from chemical fertilizers as the land was manually farmed for hundreds of years before the Guibert family settled. The Daumas Gassac Grand Crus wines epitomize the family’s respect for nature and the free expression of the terroir of the Gassac valley.
Moulin de Gassac wines are from some of the best stony hillside vineyards overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, this beautiful area of old vines is known for producing some of the lowest yields resulting in generous, original wines. These wines express the Guibert family philosophy of farming hillside vineyard sites harmoniously with nature. Made from 25 to 50 years old vines on the sunny and stony slopes of the Languedoc, these wines capture the essence of Southern France by highlighting all of the traditional grape varieties of the region. Wines are supple, expressive and full of fruit, ideal for everyday drinking.