2019 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. They founded the eponymous 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.” And Peynaud joined the Guibert family as consulting wine maker at Daumas Gassac.
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.
But the Guiberts persevered. Using Peynaud’s contacts, they took franc de pied Cabernet cuttings from Bordeaux’s First Growths and replanted the Daumas. 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.
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 serious wine. Vivid and swirling aromas of black cherries, cassis, cedar, wood smoke, and graphite invite the drinker into the ultimate sipping 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, two years ago, the Guiberts hosted a tasting of all the Daumas Gassac Rouge wines they have ever made, back to 1978. All were in top form.
This is stunning, First Growth wine.
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