Magnificent magnum bottle of Domaine Mas de Daumas Gassac, Rouge.
Mas de Daumas Gassac is a wine producer in the Languedoc region of France. It is well-known for the high quality of its Cabernet Sauvignon-predominant flagship wine, earning the estate the nickname "the Lafite of the Languedoc".
The estate is located around 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Montpellier, near the town of Gignac. Sited away from established, well-known appellations, the wine has been produced as a Vin de Table and under several IGP classifications, with recent vintages being classified as IGP St. Guilhem-le-Désert – Cité d'Aniane. The winery cellars were built in the foundations of a Gallo-Roman mill and on the site of its former pond. Wines are vinified in stainless steel vats with natural air conditioning provided by two springs running under the cellars. This slows down ferments, allowing complex flavor development.
The Mas de Daumas Gassac red is an aromatic, full-bodied wine made from around 70 to 80 percent Cabernet Sauvignon with a mix of 17 other indigenous and international varieties such as Merlot, Malbec, Pinot Noir, and Tannat. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks, aged for 12-15 months in oak barrels, and bottled unfiltered. It can be laid down for several decades, but is also approachable when young. A handful of vintages over the last few decades have been deemed special enough to warrant the production of 2000 bottles of the 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon Cuvée Émile Peynaud.
The estate also makes a white wine from Petit Manseng, Viognier, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. It is unusual in that it is allowed to macerate on its skins for five to seven days before being fermented in stainless steel. It is then filtered through fossilized seashells before being returned to the vats to mature for two to four months before bottling. Mas de Daumas Gassac white is subtly ripe and well-textured. It can be enjoyed while fresh, or aged for three to six years to be enjoyed in a more Sherry-like oxidative style.
There is also the Rosé Frizant sparkling wine, made in a closed tank from free-run juice. 70 percent is Cabernet Sauvignon from the younger estate vineyards, with the remainder a combination of Mourvèdre, Pinot Noir and the white grape varieties Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Manseng and Muscat. Vin de Laurence is an unusual double fermented dessert wine; Special grapes are harvested under-ripe and fermented, then juice from over-ripe Muscat, picked much later in October, is added for the second fermentation.
Since the 1990s, the company has produced lower-priced wines in various collections of both blended and single variety wines, all under the Moulin de Gassac label. As well as various IGP wines the range includes AOC Picpoul de Pinet, Muscat de Mireval vin doux naturel and a (Côteaux de) Languedoc red.
The first vines at Mas de Daumas Gassac were planted in 1972. Véronique and Aimé Guibert had found the property two years earlier while searching for a new rural home; in 1971 their friend, Professor Henri Enjalbert, a geologist with specialism in vineyards told them that they could make Grand Cru quality wines in that location – even if recognition may take two centuries to reach the same level. The renowned oenolist Emile Peynaud consulted (by telephone) on the first vintage in 1978.
Aimé Guibert, who died in 2016 aged 91, was one of the great champions of the Languedoc and a global wine figure. He is particularly well known for his battles with the Robert Mondavi company, first rebuffing their offer to buy the estate, then spearheading opposition to their attempts to buy land. His appearance in the film Mondovino was particularly memorable. The estate remains family-owned and is run by four of Aimé and Véronique's five children.