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15 August 2011

Languedoc: Mas de Daumas Gassac, Aniane

Some of the family and some of the team
UpdateThe Guibert family – it was the now well-known names of Véronique and Aimé who started the ball rolling when they established the estate back in 1970 - produces a wide range of wine styles, quality levels and labels nowadays at many different price points. This includes pink fizz, single site and sweet wines, easy-going varietals, an organic Grenache/Syrah Coteaux du Languedoc (just the one organic red with their “natural” credentials?)… In addition to their classic MDG white (based on Chardy & Viognier etc.) and red blends (based on Cab Sauv) and limited edition “Emile Peynaud” homage cuvée. Overall, their wines go from about €5.50 a bottle for their starter range (if you buy a case in France) and upwards & upwards, although all the ones tasted below at London's swinging ‘natural’ wine fair (click there for more info) sell for £20-£30+ in the UK (sold by Les Caves Pyrene, Berry Bros, Big Red Wine Co. and Terroir Languedoc among others) and approx. $45+ in the US. Read on for a few comments and tasting notes I made five years ago, when I first met Samuel Guibert at Vinisud wine fair and then a few weeks later at the Mas in its pretty, rolling-valley setting just outside the village of Aniane. And, although certain wines are particularly good or occasionally towards sensational and often age very well; I couldn’t help feeling a little underwhelmed in general, like I have done before, given their huge reputation and kind of awe you probably feel you ought to experience when tasting the wines, if you see what I mean… See right-hand column for enlightenment on the "1-2-3 scores" front.

2009 Mas de Daumas Gassac white (Viognier, Chardonnay, Petit Manseng, Chenin Blanc and other more obscure varieties: see site for more info, bottom) – exotic oily and rich with a certain ripeness / ‘sweetness’ even, has a bit of bite but not much, finishing a touch flabby. €35 1
2003 Mas de Daumas Gassac white – quirky maturing and Fino notes, nutty and quite complex too; getting a tad old on the palate although it’s still an intriguing white wine. 1
2008 Mas de Daumas Gassac red (80% Cabernet Sauvignon + 10 others) – herbal tones on the nose, quite tight mouth-feel with lively berry fruit, closes up with refreshing elegant touches. Not very expressive at the moment. €37 1+
2004 Mas de Daumas Gassac red – maturing savoury side although still tight and herby too, nice balance and style even if lacks depth. 1+
2007 Cuvée “Emile Peynaud” (100% Cabernet Sauvignon planted in 1975, 2000 bottles made) – wilder wine with intense smoky and leather edges, quite lush with meaty notes vs still pretty solid, structured and powerful; needs a few years to calm down and come together, promisingly age-worthy I’d say. 2+

I said this back in 2006 after trying some of their wines and talking to Samuel at Vinisud trade show in Montpellier: "Still the legend of the south? MDG was one of the first to make top quality Vins de Pays in the Languedoc from a mix of Mediterranean, Rhône and Bordeaux varieties. There are now more growers reaching a similar standard; but their wines remain classy and elegant including a back catalogue of older reds, which few others can match and shows how well they age. As for the high prices they command, well that's a different argument and MDG aren't lacking in customers!"
2004 Eraus blanc (mostly Sauvignon Blanc) - quite concentrated with mineral intensity, not very Sauv Blanc but shows nice length and bite. 85
2005 MDG blanc - lively zesty fruit with oily depth v aromatic peachy notes, zingy and long. 89
2004 Guilhem rouge (SyrahMourvèdreGrenache & Carignan) - nice soft youthful black cherry and liquorice fruit with a bit of dry bite to finish. 85
2003 Elise rouge (Syrah & Merlot) - attractive smoky tobacco and dried fruit aromas & flavours, soft mouth-feel v grip of tannin, elegant yet powerful finish. 87-89
2004 MDG rouge (Cabernet Sauvignon + 15 varieties, barrel sample) - tight elegant blackcurrant and cherry fruit, nice tannin texture v fruit concentration on its subtle length. 88+
2003 MDG rouge - more open and rustic, ripe liquorice fruit with wild herb notes; richer than the 04 with attractive tannins, softer texture v weight on the finish. 92
2001 Cuvée Emile Peynaud (Cabernet Sauvignon from selected parcels) - quite oaky nose yet shows developed fruit underneath, grippy powerful palate, the oak's still a little strong but it's also concentrated and richly textured. 90+ 

And these vintages at the estate with Samuel 13/3/06:
2005 MDG blanc - tight and crisp yet lively and intense: this offers perfumed apricot and peach fruit on a zingy palate, underpinned by a touch of yeast lees and very light toast adding complexity, length and richness. 87-89
2003 MDG rouge - lovely ripe smoky cassis and black cherry fruit with notes of leather, has softness v dry grip in the mouth with light creamy oak coating; quite elegant actually for this hot vintage, complex finish. 90-92
1995 MDG rouge - had been open for a few days so a bit oxidised; however, it displayed complex herbal v figgy flavours and again that perfumed leather edge, still quite firm and lively with maturing fruit on the finish. 92-94

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.