After working with the only estate in South Africa (Welgemeend) that championed indigenous yeasts and lower yields in the late ’90s, Tom came to Roussillon and interned at Domaine Gérard Gauby for several years, to explore Mediterranean varieties and climate. During this time Tom met his wife, who just so happens to be Gauby’s sister and together they started Matassa in 2003. The domain encompasses 12 hectares of different white & red varieties (Macabeu, Grenache Gris, Muscat d’Alexandrie, Muscat à petits grains, Viognier, Carignan, Lledoner Pelut, Mourvèdre and Cabernet Sauvignon) divided in multiple blocks around the village of Calce. Most of the vineyards are 60-120 years old, co-planted with different varieties, laying on schists & marl and yielding extremely low quantities. An additional 2 hectares of Carignan laying on granitic soil can be found in the cooler, high-altitude vineyards in Fenouillèdes. All the vineyards are worked naturally without any chemical aids; some biodynamic and plant preparations are used to activate and nourish the soil’s life. Whites are whole bunch basket pressed, and reds are whole-bunch fermented with one pigéage (by foot, of course) in the beginning to get the juice out and the spontaneous fermentation started. They are usually pressed off half-way through fermentation and the sugar fermentation is finished in old demi-muid where they also go through malolactic fermentation. No wines are fined, nor can they be duplicated.
Despite the baking heat of the Roussillon, Olla Rouge remains defiantly fresh and bright owing to the altitude of the vines as well as the inclusion of the juice of the white grapes in the blend. The fruit is red cherry and cranberry and retains a neat line of acidity. Tom's wines are always incredibly nourishing and easy to drink and this is no exception. A subtle, scorched bitterness underpins it all and reminds you where in the world you are.