From 780 : Way back in 780 CE, Charlemagne’s advisor, Saint Benedict of Aniane, founded the first vineyard in the Gassac valley. Indeed, there are good reasons to believe that he introduced Charlemagne to some of the valley’s early wines. Thus, in common with most truly great wines, the Mas de Daumas Gassac wines were born under the aegis of a prestigious Abbey.
In 1970 : Whilst searching for a family home in the Hérault hinterland, Véronique and Aimé GUIBERT fell under the spell of an abandoned farmhouse nestling on the bend of a pine bordered lane. Owned by the DAUMAS family, it was in the heart of a splendid, unspoilt valley through which runs the GASSAC river.
Strangers to the world of the vine, but entranced with ‘mother earth’ Aimé and Véronique debated what to grow : maize, olives, vines …? But they were fortunate in their fellow Aveyron friend, Professor Henri Enjalbert, a geologist specialising in the relationship between land and grapes and author of several works including a book on the ‘origin of quality’.
In 1971 :Professor Enjalbert first visited Daumas Gassac. After only a day walking round the Domaine he raved about the ice age scree covered land likening it to the best soil in Burgundy’s Côtes d’Or. ‘It’s quite possible to make a Grand Cru here’ he told them. ‘But it would probably take 200 years for it to be recognized and accepted as such!!!’. Enjalbert’s words ‘Grand cru’ acted as though someone had thrown down a gauntlet for ethnologist and Irish specialist, Véronique, and Aimé, a tanner and glove maker. They were quick to pick it up.
As Henri Enjalbert explained, the potential for an outstanding red wine was enhanced by underground cold water springs and the influence of the surrounding mountain which created a true micro-climate with a touch of humidity reminiscent of the Medoc.
In 1972 : Planting of un-cloned Cabernet Sauvignon vines. The Guibert mantra is that uniformity is the enemy of quality. They tracked down some vines propagated from cuttings taken in some of the great Bordeaux properties during the 1930s & 1940s. And, as in the best Medoc chateaux, their choice was based on quality and diversity rather than on yield and disease resistance.
Between 1972 and 1978 : Construction of cellars in the foundations of the Gallo-Roman water mill. Cold water springs emanating from the Gassac mean the temperature remains cool and constant so they’re ideal for housing vats and barrels.
13 September 1978 : First visit from Professor Emile Peynaud, a renowned œnologue and advisor to the Chateaux Margaux, Haut Brion, the Mission Haut Brion and La Lagune.
29 September 1978 : Emile Peynaud kept in touch by telephone advising on the first vinification much as a school ma’am supervises a pupil ! Much later, when journalists asked the Professor why he bothered with an unknown Languedoc domaine when he was used to dealing with the world’s great vineyards, he replied : ‘I’ve advised the greatest producers in France, but never before been lucky enough to be present at "the birth of a grand cru".
1978 : Production of the first Mas de Daumas Gassac Red wine (80% Cabernet Sauvignon).