Sunday, 10 January 2010

Mas de Daumas Gassac rouge 1996

Aimé Guibert's Mas de Daumas Gassac single handedly put the Languedoc on the fine wine map back in the 1980s. Cabernet Sauvignon was planted in 1972 and Émile Peynaud hired as consultant resulting in a wine very much in the Bordeaux mould. It seems by luck his property had a cooler micro-climate from being overlooked by the high Larzac plateau. It also needed Aimé's considerable passion and energy to promote his wine and the region in the right circles. For a recent video of him reminiscing on this period don't miss this Love that Languedoc episode.

My first purchase, a case of the 1988 vintage, was a couple of years before first visiting the region (accidentally) in 1993. Having tried it at a tasting I simply perceived it as better value than Bordeaux. It more than fitted the bill and subsequently I bought most vintages until the 1998, of which I have high hopes but have yet to taste - my case lies with a friends in bonded storage. All this said, something changed after the 1991 vintage - leaner more closed wines that have not been at all memorable.

I broached my second to last bottle of the 1996 (80% Cabernet Sauvignon) and consumed it over two evenings. Dark garnet with little browning for it's age. Distant blackcurrant, although this emerged somewhat the next day, and a palate of tight fruit with hints of broom and pepper. Reminiscent of a Medoc in structure with plenty of chewy tannins that I enjoy. More balanced 24 hours later, but ultimately it lacks the richness and generosity of the better 1980s vintages. Further ageing could well help.

Proving that the Languedoc can deliver a Bordeaux style alternative seemed a necessary first step to shake up the fine wine merchant and consumer mind set. There is, of course, still a long way to go for the regions mainstream Mediterranean cépages.

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