Matassa France

Since founding Lo-Fi 4 years ago we have had the privilege of meeting some incredible winemakers and growers. We have learnt and been able to grow from all of these people whom we regard as part of our family. None have quite captured and guided our minds to the extent that Tom Lubbe from Matassa has. Tom is a true gentleman with an incredible view of the world. His kind sensibility and nurturing personality has not only helped guide us but has had an incredible impact on winemakers across the globe.

Tom Lubbe is a New Zealander who grew up in South Africa. In the late 90’s, Tom was working at the only estate in South Africa using indigenous yeasts and lower yields. He helped innovate and shape the wine scene in South Africa and forged the space for winemakers like Craig Hawkins (Testalonga) whom spent several vintages working with Tom to flourish. 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 birth of their first child halted Tom’s plan of returning to South Africa, opting instead to stay in Calce and start his own estate.

In total, Domaine Matassa consists of 15 hectares, 13ha of which surround the village of Calce and 2ha in the high Fenouillèdes. The soils around Calce are predominantly schist and marl and the co-planted vineyards consist of Local varietals; Grenache Gris, Macabeu, Muscat d’Alexandrie, Muscat Petit-Grain, Grenache Noir, Lladonner Pelut, Carignan and Mourvedre. The wind battered vineyards in Fenouillèdes are old vine Carignan and Lladonner Pelut at 500-600m altitude on granitic soils. The vineyards are un-irrigated, bush-vines pruned to the “gobelet” technique.The vineyards are worked naturally without any chemical aids. Tom is certified organic by Ecocert and uses biodynamic techniques such as Preparation 500 and various plant fermentations to activate and nourish his soils. Tom is passionate about continuing to diversify his agriculture away from simple monoculture. He has recently planted seven different varieties of old, local olives which have been deliberately mixed up like the old vineyards, which are never one variety. Tom also sows up to 15 different plants in between his vineyard rows, which contribute to a greater diversity of soil microbiology.

Tom’s logic and ideas in the vineyard translate to the cellar where he aims to have a wine full of mineral energy. These days most of Toms wines are bottled with less than 10mg/l of total sulphur reflecting transformation in the health and vitality of his vineyards over the last decade. His whites often see maceration on skins and Tom’s approaches to reds see whole-bunch ferments. All wines are fermented on natural yeasts and are finished unfiltered and unfined. Tom’s vines are incredibly low yielding, giving the wines gorgeous concentration and minerality. These are true wines of terroir that could not be reproduced anywhere else.

Tom’s wines have seen a huge evolution as the heath of his Old Vine vineyards and his understanding of how to work with them has developed. His cuvees have captured the hearts and minds of sommeliers and wine drinkers worldwide.