Tom Lubbe and Domaine Matassa
by Amanda Donnelly
NOT YET IN STOCK!
WILL BE ARRIVING WEEK OF 6/1. WE ARE NOW ACCEPTING ORDERS.
While tasting wines with one of our suppliers the other day, I came across two wines which were unfamiliar to me. The wines were very different, I have no reference point for them - to be honest, I have never tasted anything like these two wines, so I had nothing to which I could compare them. Though they were "different" - they were delicious. And the more I have researched these wines, the more I understand what sets them apart from so many others.
In the Roussillon, on the French side of the Pyrenees, lies the Clos Matassa. The vineyard is high up in the hills of Coteaux du Fenouilledes. Tom Lubbe, born in South Africa, is the young vigneron who farms the land, and lives nearby with his family. Tom is co-owner of the property, along with Nathalie Gauby and Sam Harrop MW, who previously was the head buyer for Marks & Spencer.
Tom's wines are as "natural" as can be. His approach to winemaking is to let the natural environment do most of the work (he even does a preliminary foot crush), and he farms his vineyard parcels biodynamically. In an article by Neal Martin of The Wine Advocate, Tom said, with regard to his wild and unkempt vineyards, "If your vineyard is clean, then you are not biodynamic".
In preparing to do this email, I had the good fortune to be "introduced" to Tom via email. I was able to ask him questions to which he provided extremely informative answers. He feels the underlying story of Matassa is very simple: the domaine is based on the desire to make honest, expressive wines from great terroir. The old vines are on mother rock (slate and granite) which provide raw material with high levels of mineral content. According to Tom, the one crucial element of making good wine is "the communication of place". While he is very much aware of modern winemaking techniques, he does not feel they are conducive to making wines authentically expressive of place.
After reading about Tom's vineyards, and the way in which he makes his wines, I understand now why his wines seemed so different to me. He has very difficult terrain to maintain, with old vines needing a great deal of attention. These are not your typical over-oaked wines, and they don't have the ever-popular ripe, concentrated fruit flavors. These are unlike wines you've probably had before. Even Neal Martin, in his article about Matassa in The Wine Advocate, admittedly has a difficult time describing the wines. He finally, simply, reveals, "They just have an ineffable 'something'".
The Matassa VdP Blanc is made from 70% Grenache Gris and 30% Maccabeu. The wines are fully organic. No herbicides, pesticides or systemic chemicals were used in production.
The Matassa Cuvee Romanissa is also fully organic, and is made from 70% Grenache Noir, 15% Carignan, 10% Mourvedre and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.
If you're ready to try something new and impress your wine-lover friends, here's the opportunity! The wines are great, different, and certainly make for good discussion. Perfect for wine clubs.
I believe these wines are for true "lovers" of wine. To quote Neal Martin once more, since he says it best, "I would not claim that these will constitute the greatest wines you ever will taste, but what I would say, is that just once in your life, just try one of a bottle of Matassa. I bet a percentage of you will wonder what the fuss is about and the rest will be instantly smitten and order another case..."