Mas de Daumas Gassac 1992
The story of Mas de Daumas Gassac is a favourite one among wine writers for some reason, and I provide a brief synopsis in my Daumas Gassac profile proper. Essentially, take one Parisian glovemaker by the name of Aimé Guibert, one recently purchased holiday retreat in the Languedoc and one visit from a friendly professor of oenology by the name of Henri Enjalbert. Mix together, then sprinkle with the advice of Emile Peynaud along the way, and the result is the genesis of a new wine producing domaine which became known, thanks to its high quality Cabernet-based wines, as the Grand Cru of the Languedoc. The wines are indeed worthy of this nom de plume (although they are sold as Vin de Pays de l’Herault, not particularly grand) as I have seen them perform very well in blind Bordeaux tastings, usually masquerading as a St Estèphe Grand Cru Classé.
The Mas de Daumas Gassac 1992 was a traditional Cabernet-dominated blend, in this case 90% Cabernet with the balance a melange of Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. As an aside, this is in contrast to the 1996 which I have lined up ready for a 1996 Ten Years On tasting very soon, when the proportion of Cabernet was 80% of the total. Either way, the Mas de Daumas style for the grand vin is generally very structured, quite stony and minerally, sometimes a little austere, and this is why the wine performs well when lined up against the wines of the Gironde. This bottle was one of six of this vintage in my cellar. Unsurprisingly it has a mature colour when poured, but it is only a thin rim of watery-orange-pink that surrounds a wide core of colour which still holds a lot of ruby-claret pigment and certainly has plenty of depth. The nose is delightfully mature also, with lots of iron and blood character alongside some more savage notes of animal fur, rather mousey and horsey notes which suggest a trace of Brett perhaps. Rather lean on entry although there develops a little more texture through the midpalate, but only a little. There is still some evident structure here, although not overtly present it lends the wine an austere feel which means it works much better with food than without. Pleasing, mature, claretty flavour with just a little trace of rounded sweetness in the finish to caress the palate and counterbalance that midpalate austerity. It certainly has style, and the little twist of tannin in the finish suggests that there is no hurry to drink up my remaining bottles. Great length too. Very good, although perhaps not for those who like textured ooze-monsters!
I poured half of this into a 375ml bottle and refrigerated for the next day. The practice of pouring off into a half bottle probably does nothing to prevent oxidation, as the time between opening the first bottle and sealing the second is more than enough for oxygen to enter the wine, especially when aided by the pouring action. Once the oxygen is in the wine, the oxidation will then gradually become apparent. I still tend to pour off half, though, not so much to protect the wine, but in order to remind me that once I am halfway down the bottle, it is time to move onto the dessert wine! The second day I drank this with a roasted chicken, served with some fabulous sausages wrapped in bacon and, believe it or not, some remarkably tasty cabbage. The 1992 Mas de Daumas was perfect here, singing beautifully, showing all its mature aromas but with its fine structure working in perfect harmony on the palate with the food. Superb. 17+/20 (2/10/06)