When a wine is labelled as organic or biodynamic, I tend to greet it with suspicion. This is partly my cynical belief that many producers describe their wines as such mainly for marketing purposes and partly a suspicion of movements in general that I alluded to in a previous post. Patrick Matthews in his book the Wild Bunch puts it well. He notes ‘echoes of cults, evangelism, even show trials’ in the language used by organics more dogmatic adherents.
As much as I don’t like organics as a movement or a marketing tool, I do like the philosophy behind it purely because it seems to make better wines. Or I’ll put that differently because there are some awful organic wines: the producers I like tend to either be organic or use such a minimal amount of fertilizer, fungicide etc that they might as well be. That is why Samuel Guibert from Mas de Daumas Gassac is a man after my own heart. When I asked him about organics he said that he wasn’t interested in politics, yes they farm organically but they don’t put it on the label. There’s no worthiness and no dogma. Many of the wines he enjoys are not from organic, biodynamic or ‘natural’ producers. He just wants to keep the family estate as nice as possible and that means not polluting the locale. He described it with mischevious gleam in his eye as ‘selfish environmentalism.’
And what a spectacular environment it is. Most vineyards are actually very dull. Vines themselves are not interesting to look at but at Mas de Daumas Gassac the vines are interspersed with garrique – the local name for the bush. They integrate into the landscape. You can see the effect in this video of M. Guibert:
The red, mainly Cabernet Sauvignon with a small amount of many other varieties, is justifiably famous. I liked it a lot but would like to try it after at least ten years in bottle. You really need to treat it like a good Bordeaux. The white, a blend of Viognier, Chenin Blanc, Petite Manseng, Chardonnay, is more immediately accessible but will also age. The 2003 was delightfully nutty when I tried it recently.
The one I am going to recommend is a little bit different. I had it on New Year’s Eve and then again in France. It’s a fizzy rosé made from the Cabernet vines too young to go in the red and it is delightfully frivolous. So much nicer than those dreary rosé champagnes and only £15 a bottle. Sound too expensive? A decent rosé champagne would cost you at least twice as much and be half as much fun. It’s also six times more delicious than the best prosecco and eighteen times more stylish than cava. It will also make you irresitible to the opposite sex.
Mas de Daumas Gassac Frizant Rose 2008, Vin de Pays de l’Hérault Vin Mousseux