DEFCON 5 – Gassac Second Label

DEFCON 5 – Gassac Second Label

Posted on Jan, 03. 2011 by

Categories: Wine

(For new members who may not have seen a Wine Guild ‘DEFCON 5’ email, it is a designation that we use only for the rarest of rare steals, the freakiest of freaky deals. In 3 years, we’ve used the ‘DEFCON 5’ label a grand total of four times before today, so you can rest assured we do not use it lightly.)

I have been waiting 3 months to tell you about this wine. We have patiently endured the scoundrel knavery of petty thinking in the local wine trade by respecting a certain retailer’s desire to be the only shop selling this wine in town since October (**see below for my thoughts on this). With the new year upon us the idiocy has expired and you will begin to see this wine everywhere as it is unbelievably amazing and uncannily priced.

The Wine Guild has been a fan of Mas de Dumas Gassac since our conception. Early members will recall the close out deals we once received putting the top wines of this estate into the hands of us masses in volume and spawning tales of greatness that we still tell today. This is one of the great French wines.

For the last 2 years we have offered out and flipped over the recent project from Gassac, the Guilhem wines. Both the white and the red offer stunning quality for the sub $8 price point.

I just learned in October of another new project from Gassac, a true “Second Label” of the top wines. Keep in mind the top wines from this estate sell for $50-$60 per bottle these days, worth every penny but no less dear. In the tradition of Bordeaux second labels, Gassac is using the same fruit that goes into their first bottling in this new project Pont de Gassac. They have made a white and a red, I am drinking both of them as I write this, this is the second time I have been able to taste them and they are still both just unbelievably amazing wines that we can sell for a song.

I will include better detail of this estate below but here is the gist: These guys are working in Languedoc on a crazy micro terrior region that a wine professional friend made them aware of in the early 70’s. Their bottlings are always the most absurd blends of many different grapes but from this absurdity they consistently pull focused greatness. The wines themselves strike me as Bordelaise in style and are often fat with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for the reds and Sauvignon Blanc for the whites. Gassac brings to this a smattering of Languedoc varietals and the result is something unique and singularly sublime.

The current release is the 2009 vintage. That’s right, France’s new best vintage ever. The White is 40% Sauv Blanc, 40% Chardonnay and 20% Clairette. The nose favors the Sauv Blanc and Clairette, it is as clean and fresh as a Loire Valley wine and is at once as lean and refreshing as a Ligurian coastal white wine and as fat as a well made Maconnais.

The Red is 50% Cabernet Sauv., 30% Merlot and 20% Syrah and it is a close strike to the first wine of the Domaine in many ways. The nose and fore-palate are all Cabernet, Bordeaux-y reminiscent goodness. The Syrah sneaks in during the mid palate giving weight and spice to the overall impression.

Both of these wines are for every palate type. I can not conceive of a palate I have ever encountered that would not find something to really like in either the white or red. The reason I have bestowed these bottlings with our rare Defcon 5 rating is that they represent unbelievable quality for the price point we are able to sell them for. That is to say please don’t expect to have your life changed by the inherent quality of the wine. Expect to have your life changed by the quality of the wine at the price you are paying.

This is the kind of wine that I am always jumping up and down to get people to cellar. With 7 years on the red you will turn an $11 wine into a $45 wine. This can only happen when the quality of wine making itself is high enough to see the wine through. As for the white, drink it now it is just delicious.

This is a Defcon 5 for the value it represents. I highly recommend these wines to everyone. They are perfect for every time and place being both excellent food wine and cocktail wine and I would put the perceived value of this wine by taste at closer to $25 per bottle (i.e. make someone you know feel special for less).

Final note: They are well made from a very strong vintage and will benefit from a good hours decanting.

2009 Pont De Gassac, Blanc
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $11.00 • Premier Cru: $11.50 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $15.00
Buy Now!

2009 Pont De Gassac, Rouge
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $11.00 • Premier Cru: $11.50 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $15.00
Buy Now!

Notes from Evan’s 2009 write up:

We just finished a little distributor meeting with Samuel Guibert, the co-owner/winemaker at what’s known as “The Grand Cru of the Midi”, Mas de Daumas Gassac, and I thought I’d let you guys in on this right away. Mas de Daumas Gassac (Languedoc, Southern Rhone), and its success is owed in large part to somewhat of an anomaly in the soil and microclimate—In 1971, a Geology professor rediscovered this unique red glacial soil, similar to that of the Cote d’Or. At the same time, the cooler microclimate in the Gassac Valley is rare in the southern Rhone, and produces strikingly unique wines. So in the early 70’s, the Guibert family planted vines and began the construction of the cellars. Emile Peynaud, the famous Medoc Oenologist, consulted with the owners, and once remarked, ‘I’ve advised the greatest producers in France, but never before been lucky enough to be present at the birth of a grand cru’. The “Grand Cru” label stuck, and the family has carved out a fine wine niche in a land of indistinguishable table wine.

The domaine has a very small production, and the Guiberts have a “spice rack” approach to winemaking: they are not afraid to blend in many varietals to achieve complexity and balance. But, as Samuel rattled off the eight or so varietals that were in the rouge, the only thing that you needed to know was: these are intense wines, wines of finesse, great depth, and striking balance.

**For those interested, a note about a wine shop’s ability to hold exclusivity on a wine: Any wine shop in town could threaten a distributor into not selling a wine that they want complete control over for a while. The threat is based on pulling all business from that distributor unless they comply with your wishes. The result is that the shop who does this ends up not selling a tremendous amount of great wine to spite the distributors who call their bluff. Moreover it is terrible business practice putting the distributor in an uneasy and awkward position and causing general ill will in the community at large. But then all soulless acts originate from an empty heart and narrow mind, and one must ask oneself ‘Do I really want the spiritually dead to be selecting my wine?’

One Response to “DEFCON 5 – Gassac Second Label”

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