Coume del Mas
Philippe & Nathalie Gard - Collioure, Roussillon.
Coume del Mas kickstarted something.
The result today is 35 wines, 4 brands, and 3 corporations that has guided & encouraged a generation of winemakers. But that intricate network doesn’t capture the human story. To us, Coume del Mas feels like an idealist creative collective, one of those rare places where a group of maverick characters find comfort through inspiration. It’s possibly no surprise that their home is Collioure.
Settle down with a cuppa, maybe a glass, for a little slice of art history.
South of Perpignan, where the Pyrenees meet the sea in a jumble of cliffs, hilltop forts, and sandy bays; sits Collioure. Nestled on the only east-facing coast in France, the magnificent light softens the craggy coastline. A smuggler’s paradise – but that’s a century earlier.
In 1905 Matisse came to Collioure, he was depressed, broke, and desperate to find his style. After phylloxera destroyed the wine trade, It had cheap accommodation, ‘special light’, and a struggling anchovy trade. The bright colours lifted his spirit and inspired his art. Joined by his pal Derain, they produced many works, likened by the critics to ‘wild beasts’ – an art movement was born – Fauvism.
Dali, Miro, Picasso, etc, followed. This magnificent light reflecting from the shallow bay continues to inspire a collection of new artists, poets, and architects.
In this Roussillon amphitheatre, the same sunlight, sea-wind, and iron ore has inspired a later tribe, this time, of wine making mavericks. At the heart of this movement is the rebellious spirit of Coume del Mas.
In 2001, the Catalan culture became the new home to Philippe & Nathalie Gard when they founded Coume del Mas. Joined by Englishman Andy Cook a few years later, and Julian Grill in 2006, they set about nurturing their crops and making great wines. Parcel by parcel they built a network of 35 plots covering 12 hectares.
Diversity is key. Some parcels are on the high terraces cooled by sea air, others further inland – old vines in schist giving a beautiful minerality. The same elements that inspired the Fauvists’ colour are now shaping the winemaker’s flavour palate with over 30 different wines the result of this geological assortment.
The terraces are impossible to mechanize so there was no choice but to hand-care the vines. Committed to organic principles from the outset, the Domaine has level 3 certification.
Today, this new wave of experimental vignerons includes: Richard Bray (Cathartic wines), Leah Angles (Divay, etc), Miguel (Chan Chan Collectif). These prospecting winemakers drawn to inspirational vignerons, affordable land, varied terroir, and a ready supply of ancient vines.
The 100 yr old plus Grenache Noir is often the star. Sometimes with ancient and/or newly planted Carignan, Mourvèdre and Syrah, all nurtured in their own plots.
Minerality is a signature flavour across all wines, with each parcel vinified separately. The blending being a key moment of truth.
Each wine has a distinct place in the portfolio.