Mas de Daumas Gassac has achieved acclaim around the world for its red wine, an intricate blend of grape varieties from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to Nebbiolo, Dolcetto and Pinot Noir.
It is produced on relatively high ground in the hinterland of Languedoc-Roussillon, on sloping vineyards between Aniane and St-Guilhem Le Désert, the medieval village that lies in the steep gorge of the Hérault river and is recognised as one of the most beautiful villages in France.
Founded by the late Aimé Guibert in 1971, with his wife Véronique, Daumas Gassac has spent decades in the vanguard of a movement towards quality in a French region traditionally more associated with cheap table wines.
Cabernet Sauvignon generally makes up at least 70% of the final blend in the top wine, Mas de Daumas Gassac rouge, but this rose as high as 79% in the highly rated 2015 vintage.
The remainder can come from a range of grape varieties in any given year, including the classic Bordeaux set of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Carmenere and Malbec, but also Tannat, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto Tempranillo, Baga, Saperavi, Bastardo and others, as Andrew Jefford reported following a previous tasting at the winery in 2014.Daumas Gassac’s 2016 label, for instance, cites 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot and 3% each for Malbec, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo and Dolcetto.
The wines themselves are known for being relatively restrained by the standards of Languedoc, and also Bordeaux, with modest tannin levels and fresh acidity.
‘If you’ve never tried Mas de Daumas before, it’s possible to be underwhelmed on the first occasion,’ wrote Andrew Jefford in his column in the June 2014 issue of Decanter magazine. ‘These pure,April 2018 limpid, fresh red wines, though, drink very attractively. As this tasting proved, they also age very well, carried through time by their balance and poise.’
The wines are generally aged in oak for between 12 and 15 months, using barrels between one and seven years old, according to the estate. Annual production of Mas de Daumas Gassac rouge is around 100,000 bottles plus up to 4,000 magnums.
Aimé Guibert died in 2016 aged 91. The estate is today run by his sons, Samuel, Roman, Gaël and Basile Guibert. Recent vintages of Mas de Daumas Gassac rouge from 2010 to 2016, plus a 2017 barrel sample:
Andrew Jefford tasted the wines at the winery at the same time as taking part in a 30-vintage vertical of the estate’s white wines. Read his write-up of the Mas de Daumas Gassac white wines here.
Mas de Daumas Gassac, St Guilhem-le-Désert Cité d’Aniane, 2017 Here’s a little bit of reduction showing on this barrel sample, but also lots of classic blackcurrant and red plum fruit. The quality of fruit revealed on the palate is very exciting, fresh and precise, with dramatic density. It has a little less overt floral charm than the youthful 2016, but more of the light herbal bitterness in the finish which chiefly constitutes this wine’s Languedoc character.
Potentially a fine wine in the classic, long-lasting mould of 2010.
- POINTS 93
Mas de Daumas Gassac, Pays d’Hérault, Rouge, 2010.
This is a great vintage for Mas de Daumas Gassac Rouge, and it falls very much into the now time-honored style. It’s bright and medium-weight, with freshly defined, classically graceful proportions.
There’s no excessive tannic force, fruit sweetness or alcoholic warmth. The blackcurrant scents are precise and fresh, while the years in the cellar have brought a touch of menthol, thyme and tobacco leaf complexity. What the scents sketch out is exactly what the palate delivers: limpid, lively, concentrated fruit flavours now acquiring classy complexity with the years. Bitter-sweet herb and plant perfumes, so typical of the Languedoc, inform but never occlude those bright fruits.
- POINTS 94
Mas de Daumas Gassac, St Guilhem-le-Désert Cité d’Aniane, 2016.
The 2016 Mas de Daumas Gassac Rouge is an opaque red-purple colour, with almost irresistible, youthful scents of musky rosebuds over sweet, crisp black fruits. Those aromas prove a faithful summary of what you’ll find on the palate: a lively cascade of fresh, pure, zesty fruit, hops, pink grapefruit and aromatic rosebud charm. There are some gathered tannins behind the fruits, but they’re not a prominent part of this midweight wine’s architecture. This high-energy young red is
perfumed, beguiling and graceful, endowed with singing charm. (Editor’s note: Goedhuis price below is for six bottles in bond, released ‘en primeur’ in autumn 2017.)
- POINTS 94
Mas de Daumas Gassac, St Guilhem-le-Désert Cité d’Aniane, 2015.
Together with 2017, 2015 looks to be the recent vintage of Mas de Daumas Gassac Rouge most likely to match the outstanding 2010 vintage for pure-fruited precision, lift and drive. It’s dark but not opaque at present, with the distinctive mingling of blackcurrant purity and faintly bitter-edged herbal asperity so characteristic of this wine. Deft tannins support the fruit, and there is exemplary concentration without any sense of bulging muscle or obtrusive power. It’s absolutely drinkable already, though the record shows that it will age very well.
- POINTS 92 – April 2018
Mas de Daumas Gassac, St Guilhem-le-Désert Cité d’Aniane, 2014
The 2014 has quiet but fine-grained aromas of black fruits with lots of forest freshness. You’ll find this on the palate too, the fruits laid out in a relatively fresh and edgy style. It doesn’t quite have the concentration of 2010, 2015, 2016 or 2017, but it is very typical in its poise, charm and classical balance. Supremely drinkable.
- POINTS 89
Mas de Daumas Gassac, St Guilhem-le-Désert Cité d’Aniane 2013
This was a relatively cool year for the Languedoc, though it was unmarred by the copious rain which fell in Bordeaux and other French vineyard regions. That suited many of the warmest Languedoc sites – but not necessarily the cooler, slightly higher-altitude Gassac valley. The wine has satisfactory alcohol levels, but it has emerged in a lighter style than usual, with super-gentle tannins and a shaded cast to the fruit making it suitable for early drinking. Its dappled freshness endows it with fine
drinking qualities just now. (Editor’s note: BBR stockist price below is for a case of six bottles on the BBX exchange, in bond).
- POINTS 88
Mas de Daumas Gassac, St Guilhem-le-Désert Cité d’Aniane, 2012
Like the 2013, this was not a notably ripe Mas de Daumas Gassac, but it’s an outstanding vintage nonetheless, thanks to its aromatic finesse, complexity, and fine-sewn flavour contours. Black fruits
are joined by raspberry, sweet tobacco leaf and fine leather. The concentration is impressive, and vibrant fruit-saturated acidity makes for a highly energetic, almost athletic style.
- POINTS 92
Mas de Daumas Gassac, St Guilhem-le-Désert Cité d’Aniane, 2011.
This was definitely a riper vintage – the wine’s 13.8% was the highest ever recorded for a Mas de Daumas Gassac Rouge – and if classical vintages have a Bordeaux left-bank feel, then the 2011 might evoke the right bank with its sweet-dusted plum and sloe fruit aromas. The palate is full of these sweeter fruits, and brings in hints of strawberry, pomegranate and raisin with a streak of spice, which is most unusual in this customarily pure-fruited wine. It’s lush, warm and comforting on the finish.