I was very sad to read last week that Aimé Guibert had died, at the age of 91. With the creation of Mas de Daumas Gassac, Aimé was undoubtedly one of the great pioneers of the Languedoc, helping to bring the region into the modern era. The story of how Aimé discovered that he was sitting on a viticultural gold mine is well known; Mas de Daumas Gassac was bought as a holiday home but with advice from the geologist Henri Enjalbert, and from Professor Emile Peynaud, it quickly became one the leading estates of the Languedoc during the 1980s.
Aimé was an articulate and confident exponent of his wine; he had come to the Languedoc from the tanning industry in Millau, and saw the Languedoc with new eyes, appreciating the possibilities it had to offer. More importantly he took advantage of them, and even more significantly he had the financial means to do so. In doing so he has contributed enormously to the dramatic change in the image of the Languedoc that took place towards the end of the last century. Aimé also set a new level of expectation concerning price, especially for what on the label is a simple vin de pays de l’Hérault. He showed that the category was irrelevant; it was quality that counted and in the early days Mas de Daumas was able to command consistently higher prices than any other Languedoc estate, and it set an example for others to follow, which they have done. He demonstrated that the higher, but not excessive prices, gave wine growers the possibility to invest in better cellar facilities and new vineyards. The Languedoc could move on from cheap wine.
Aimé is also known for his stand against the incursions of Robert Mondavi into the Languedoc, as recorded in Jonathan Nossiter’s film Mondovino. Whether Aimé fought for the right cause or not, is open for discussion. What is in no doubt is the energy and passion with which he applied himself to the cause. And Mondavi retired from the field.
Samuel Guibert, who takes over the running of Mas de Daumas Gassac, with his siblings, Roman, Gaël and Basile quotes his father as saying: One can only give two things to one’s children: roots and wings. And that is what Samuel strongly feels that his father has done.