The back label of this wine calls it “the essence of Southern France.” Having never been to the Languedoc (yes, it’s on the list…), I can neither confirm, nor deny this assertion. That said, when I taste this wine, the images formed in my mind are of the rugged, stony vineyards of the region, bathed in beautiful sunshine… a la Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence.
I have been all afire lately about the values one can claim on the Iberian Peninsula… and then, when you least expect it, a stunning little number like this wine shows up, again reinforcing my Euro-centric palate.
The history of viticulture in the Gassac valley claims to be rooted in the time of Charlemagne, around 780 A.D., presumably under the auspices of Saint Benedict of Aniane. Sounds reasonable from what I know of Gallic history. The Mas de Daumas Gassac label was establish in more modern times, around 1970 by Véronique and Aimé Guibert, who were smitten with the ruins of an old farmhouse beside the Herault and Gassac rivers. In the characteristically romantic way, vines were planted, noted winemakers (Professors Enjalbert and Peynaud) visited and advised, and over the course of several decades a string of impressive wines were produced. The Moulin de Gassac label, the second label of Mas de Daumas Gassac, is actually more of a “cooperative-based” wine, culling the grapes from over 7,000 individual parcels grown by over 800 vignerons. The label is a partnership that was designed to save many of the indigenous varietals slated for removal through the failed Brussels Subsidies, which were an attempt at enticing local grape growers to rip out less “glamorous” grapes to replant more “globally accepted” varietals. A noble mission, I must say…
The Guilhem red is a splendid little wine made from 40% Syrah, 25% Grenache, 15% Carignan and 20% Mourvèdre, the “usual suspects” in most of the red wines from this region. Easy drinking, the wine is the perfect weight for summer quaffing with noticeable spice to make it an ideal partner with fare from the grill. At an average retail price of $9.99 per bottle before the discount, you can’t go wrong with putting a case of this in the cellar!
My tasting note:
Ripe, fruity nose with black cherry, allspice and wildflower hints. Medium-bodied with moderate-to-firm acidity and supple tannin – good balance. Youthful with a juicy, lively palate – sour cherry, dried herbs and floral notes. Moderate length with a smooth, simple finish. Some hint of spice and pepper shows on the aftertaste. Drinking, or should I say quaffing, well – not for aging. Although, the wine is closed via Stelvin, so I would expect the wine to remain fresh and lively for a few years to come (the web site says drink within 3 years). Great value.