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 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. Fast forward today, Tom and Nathalie farm 20 hectares of different white & red varieties (Macabeu, Grenache Gris, Muscat d’Alexandrie, Muscat à petits grains, Carignan, Lledoner Pelut, Mourvèdre and Grenache) divided in various vineyards around the village of Calce and Espira-de-l’Agly where they now have settled with their estate.
Most of the vineyards are 60-120 years old, co-planted with different varieties on schist & 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 aid; 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 pigeage 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 as well as large Austrian barrels where they also go through malolactic fermentation.
It would be a shame not to mention Tom’s incredible mentorship over the years that has paved the way for many well-known and highly regarded vignerons today – among them (and to name a few) Craig Hawkins, Jurgen Gouws, Stefanie Renner.