About 30kms or so inland from the sea in the south west of France, in the hills around a village called Calce, Tom Lubbe farms just over 12 hectares of vines. In the Roussillon there are many winemakers, even the natural wine community is well-represented and over the years Tom has worked away at farming and making his wines in a way that stakes a well deserved place in the crowd.
Tom is from New Zealand originally, and after growing up n South Africa and working in the wine industry for Louise Hofmeyer at Welgemeed, a winery that championed lower interventionist methods at a time in the 90’s when that certainly wasn’t de rigeuer in SA, he then came to France to work a three month stage at Domaine Gauby in the late 90’s.
He met his wife, Nathalie (Gerard Gauby’s sister) whilst working there over successive vintages, and in 2003, they purchased the vines around Calce and in the Coteaux de Fenouillèdes, and with the help of his friend Sam Harrop (a fellow kiwi, Master of Wine, and ex wine buyer for M&S) Domaine Matassa was born.
Over the years the domaine has gone through many changes and shifts, from vinifying in the lounge room, to moving cellar a couple of times, marriage, children…….and the addition of more land and more vines.
In 2018 Tom bought the Jolly Ferriol domaine, which is just under a 20 minute drive to the north west of Calce. After some renovation and restructuring of the house and grounds, by 2020 everything was ready and production has been centred there since.
The Ferriol domaine came with 8 hectares of vines, and though Tom pulled most of them up to dedicate the land to a new farming project, he kept a hectare of vines planted on some extremely unique black schist, and he releases a couple of single site cuvées just from this parcel (Mambo Sun is one of them). Tom has been a dedicated mentor to many young vignerons over the years and he hasn’t been shy of sharing his ideals and of adapting his practices as his own knowledge and desires grow. These days all of his white cuvées are macerated, he harvests early to retain acidity, and the biodiversity of the vineyard and health of the soils remains absolutely paramount.
Tom works with a wide range of varietals - carignan, lledoner pelut, mourvèdre, cabernet sauvignon, grenache, macabeu, grenache gris, muscat d’alexandrie, muscat à petits grains and viognier, from vines of 60 - 120 years of age, grown on a mix of schist, marl, black slate and black marl. The different sites have varying yields, and all vines are farmed organically (they are certified by Ecocert) with the addition of a selection of biodynamic preparations, though the additions of these solutions is by no means a regimented practice. When the tramontane winds steadily blow there is a danger of losing part of the crop to damaged vines, and the heat is always a factor, but, should they beat the elements the old vines yield beautiful fruit that is handled with a deep respect in the cellar. Whole bunch ferments are aged in old barrels, no sulphites have been added at any stage of production since 2015, and though in the early days the wines often landed on the funky side of wild, they have matured along with the domaine, at Matassa Tom makes wines which are lively and individual, whilst showing a depth, interest and oft age-worthy character that is a nod to Toms experience and skill.