Brilliant. Bonkers, but Brilliant.
To the rather posh Hotel du Vin for a tasting of Mas de Daumas Gassac, presented - by Samuel Guibert - very informatively, and with almost no smoke or mirrors. He told us we would have had the product of forty five varieties of grape by the evening's end. This in itself excited my inner list-ticker, and I was not disappointed.
There were several lesser wines, all very tasty and pretty much accurately priced, but reaching the Mas de Daumas Gassac Blanc (02005, cork) was something of a two or three level power-up.
As the Big Egg says, the Blanc is bonkers. A blend of Viognier, Chenin, Chardonnay, Manseng, with other varietals for seasoning, this one utterly bamboozled me. Here's my initial tasting note.
"over-ripe fruit, fish, smoke, animals, bananas, more smoke, Lagavulin, sherry fish. Then green. celery juice, then nutty."
Over the evening it evolved into a brilliant full viognier dominated blend, although without the wonderful downy billowing texture of Condrieu. Rather there was a soft oiliness, like good white Chateauneuf. Whatever that note means, the wine certainly deserves its score of 5 (astonishing).
The Mas de Daumas Gassac Rouge ('04, '03, '02, cork) were all very good to excellent (score 3-4), complex and fascinating. The technical note says they are currently in their 'Period of Youth'. I should very much like to try them when they have reached their Period of Plenitude, aged between 14 and 21 years. Fingers crossed. Anyway, here is - just to persuade you to rush out and buy some - my tasting note for the Rouge '03.
"strong cow poo and warm fur. chocolate melted on the hands of a toddler who urgently needs changed. chocolate bananas"
The Small Egg raised a very interesting point. Can a wine which varies so much over three consecutive vintages be said to have its own character? He asserted that all great and/or unique wines have their own recognisable character. Can one say this of Mas de Daumas Gassac? I don't know. After all, 02003 was an odd year, and '04 was kind of the rebound from that, in terms of vine growth / production, so you might argue that these three vintages are not a typical vertical tasting.
Update: a bit of rummaging has resulted in this partial list of grape varieties used at Daumas: Clairette, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Chenin, Chardonnay, Viognier, Petit Manseng, Malbec, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, Petit Verdot, Muscat de Alexandria, Sercial, and Cabernet Franc. Nineteen, which is some way short of the promised forty-five. Any information you might have would be very useful as a comment.