This exceptional terroir constitutes the identity of Mas de Daumas Gassac’s Grands Vins…


Most important of all is Mas de Daumas Gassac’s exceptional terroir, discovered in the 1970s by the geographer and professor, Henri Enjalbert. Occupying the chair of geography at the Academy of Bordeaux (he died in 1983 having completed his monumental book on Saint Emilion), he discovered, in the middle of the Arboussas Massif, under the thick mantle of the garrigue, 40 hectares (100 acres) of deep, perfectly drained soil, rich in mineral oxides (iron, copper, gold, etc) and poor in humus and plant matter.

He immediately saw a similarity between this soil and that of the finest terroirs of the Côte d’Or in Burgundy.

This terroir of glacial sandstone accumulated by winds during the Riss, Mindel and Guntz glaciations provides three essential elements for the production of a grand vin:

deep soil in which the vines’ roots can find nourishment deep below the surface;
well-drained soil in which the vines’ roots will never become water-logged;
poor soil requiring effort from the vines and causing them stress but resulting in superb flavours.

Henri Enjalbert’s notes and drawings were reproduced in a remarkable book published in 1985 called “Un Vignoble de Qualité en Languedoc”.

A cold microclimate with beneficial effects

It is difficult for a great terroir to express itself in a hot climate: all of the legendary wines (Bordeaux, Champagne, Burgundy) are produced in northerly vineyards. The Upper Gassac Valley, the cradle for this exceptional terroir, also benefits from a cold microclimate that corresponds to an altitude of about 500 metres. At night, cold air flows down from the Larzac plateau (850 metres) into the Upper Gassac Valley, keeping the vines cool at night even in the middle of the summer.

The vineyard’s exposure on north-facing slopes accentuates the microclimate’s effect by reducing the hours of sunshine, especially in the summer. While this microclimate delays the vines’ flowering by about three weeks compared to the average in the Languedoc, thereby delaying the harvests of the red grapes, it is also responsible for the remarkable complexity and finesse of Mas de Daumas Gassac’s wines, and the extremely rare balance of three elements – alcohol, polyphenols and acidity – that is found in exceptional wines.

Grape varieties

We have planted old un-cloned varieties that have low yields but offer exceptional organoleptic richness.
As a result, our vineyard has become a museum of grape varieties. A remarkable story to discover…

In the 1950s, agriculture was taken over by an “industrial” approach. In the vineyard, clonal selection became standard: compared to past centuries, yields doubled, and the originality of the flavours tended to disappear.

At Mas de Daumas Gassac, we refused the clones: we planted old varieties with low yields. In this way, the vineyard has become something of a museum, illustrating what varieties such as Cabernet-Sauvignon, Petit Manseng and Viognier were like in the past. Before modern clones: low yields but tremendous organoleptic richness.

“Cloning changed yields, at least doubling them. We went from an exceptional product with a great aromatic intensity to an overabundant one, lacking in any flavours except those that are added artificially. We have kept the names of the grape varieties, but by cloning them, they have lost their diversity, their aromatic qualities… their personalities.”

Aimé Guibert

Low yields: a tradition in times past!

35 to 40 hectolitres per hectare. That means three to six thousand kilos of grapes per hectare, corresponding to one square metre for each glass of wine, and hence to a strong expression of the terroir.

These are modest yields when compared to the twenty to thirty thousand kilos of grapes per hectare that are harvested in the production of industrial wines.

Following the collapse of the glove-making trade, Aimé Guibert made a series of journeys to say goodbye to all the people he had worked with in the northern Mediterranean region. He took advantage of these occasions to ask, as a souvenir of their collaboration, for a cutting from their favourite vines, or those grown by friends, neighbours and families, each of which represented a period glory in a different region of the world… And so, it was that Aimé’s precious collection of varieties grew through such encounters and a constant search for authenticity. A collection of which the Gassac valley is now the guardian, and with reason: of the property’s 50 varieties, 25 are unknown to the general public and can truly be said to belong to history!

Red grape varieties

Most of the vineyard consists of the “king”, Cabernet Sauvignon, in uncloned form (as it grew in the Médoc before 1914).

Advised by their friend Mr Boubals (a professor of viticulture at Montpellier University and director of the National School of Viticulture) Aimé and Véronique Guibert obtained cuttings from vines dating from the 1930s and 40s from around a hundred of the best properties in the Bordeaux and Lot-et-Garonne region.

In 1972, 17,500 uncloned Cabernet Sauvignon vines were thus grafted onto American rootstock. These in themselves constitute a unique museum of old vines planted in the Médoc before the age of cloning.

In addition, 20% of the vineyard is planted with other noble varieties that are blended with the Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Tannat, Petit Verdot, Carmenère, Syrah, Pinot Noir and ten other rare, old varieties.

White grape varieties

Like the red, the white varieties come from old uncloned collections. Four varieties make up 90% of the white grapes: Viognier, Chardonnay, Petit Manseng and Chenin. Cuttings collected by Aimé from properties in their respective regions:

Viognier from the Rhône: cuttings from the iconic Domaine Georges Vernay – Condrieu.
Petit Manseng from the Pyrenees: Domaine Charles Hours – Béarn, Jurançon Grands Vins
Chenin from the Loire: Domaine Huet – Vouvray.
Chardonnay from Burgundy: Domaine des Comtes Lafon.

Note that while these four varieties account for 90% of the white wine, the remaining 10% comes from fourteen glorious, rare varieties. For example, Neherleschol, an Israeli grape variety grown on the Golan Heights, which would have been the source of the biblical wine in the miracle of the Wedding at Cana.

Aimé Guibert also travelled to Armenia to obtain the varieties used to make the legendary wine that was appreciated by Alexander the Great.

Madeira, Portugal, Switzerland and more… All of these countries are represented in the Gassac valley through their respective grape varieties: Bourboulenc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Petit Courbu, Muscat Ottonel, Muscat Petit grain, Muscat d’Alexandrie, Gros Manseng, Semillon (France), Neherleschol (Israel), Petite Arvine, Amigne (Switzerland), Sercial de Madère (Portugal), Khondorni, Tchilar (Armenia), Albarino (Spain), Falanghina, Fiano, Grechetto Todi (Italy).

These “forgotten” varieties constitute the only collection of its kind in the world, and tell a story that today is passed on through Mas de Daumas Gassac’s grand vins.

Mas de Daumas Gassac
Haute Vallée du Gassac – 34150 ANIANE |

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We’re recruiting!
We are currently looking for pickers for the 2024 harvest – between late August and early September.
Possibility of accommodation on site.