“How does a New Zealander who grew up in South Africa end up starting an iconoclastic estate in the Roussillon?” says Tom Lubbe’s U.S. importer Louis-Dressner on their website. “This isn’t exactly an everyday occurrence, but so it goes for Tom Lubbe of Domaine Matassa. In the late 90’s, Tom was working at the only estate in South Africa using indigenous yeasts and lower yields. Interested in working with Mediterranean varietals, Tom managed to score a 3 month internship at the legendary Domaine Gauby in the village of Calce. Gérard Gauby quickly befriended Tom and asked him to come back for three consecutive vintages as cellar helper. During that time, Tom met his wife Nathalie, who just so happens to be Gérard’s sister.”
The rest is history. Today Matassa is one of the natural wine world’s leading lights. Tom works with extremely low yielding old bush vines (many over 100 years old) and traditional Mediterranean varieties. The wines are intensely mineral and terroir-expressive in every possible way. Matassa comprises 12 ha of small plots of very old vines surrounded by scrubland in the Calce region of the Côtes du Roussilon. Since 2003 biodynamic practices have been applied in the vineyards including the use of semi-permanent cover crops which are ploughed in and re-sown every three years. Grapes are hand harvested and fermented with indigenous yeasts and no additives are used except for a tiny amount of sulphur after fermentation.
Tom’s wines have been going from strength to strength and his new vintages looked gorgeous at the Real Wine Fair last month. Check out what Real Wine means to Tom:
Finally, here’s Sir Wregg’s recent poetic impression of Tom’s latest Cuvée Alexandria:
Matassa Cuvée Alexandria from Tom Lubbe, a true beauty of a flaming sunset of a desert island wine. From the Muscat of Alexandria, a synonym of which is Tottenham Park Muscat.
Yes, sing the song of the orange-tree,
With its leaves of velvet green:
With its luscious fruit of sunset hue,
The fairest that ever were seen;
The grape may have its bacchanal verse,
To praise the fig we are free;
But homage I pay to the queen of all,
The glorious orange-tree.
–K. Hoyt, The Orange-Tree