Tom Lubbe’s wines, under the label Matassa, are known for their intensely mineral-driven, pure expressions of terroirs. Tom is a passionate advocate of working with a hands-off approach both in the winery and with his old vines on the steep slopes of the Roussillon in Southwest France. Tom was born in New Zealand but grew up in South Africa where he established The Observatory in Swartland. He met his future wife, Nathalie Gauby, in 1999 when he travelled to France to get some work experience at Domaine Gauby with her brother, Gérard. He had been winemaking at Welgemeend winery with Louise Hofmeyer who was fermenting with wild yeasts and when he asked her to help him gain some experience in France with a like-minded producer in similar climatic conditions, she suggested Gauby in Roussillon. The three-month work experience turned into three years until Tom and Nathalie created Domaine Matassa in 2003. Tom had already bought a plot in 2001for the Matassa Rouge.
In addition to his own vineyards, Tom rents 3 hectares from Nathalie’s family en fermage, 6 hectares of Nathalie’s vineyards and he has a partnership, a 3-hectare plot, Domaine Haka, with Sam Harrop MW (New Zealand trained oenologist).
Tom uses biodynamic preparations such as Horn manure but is mainly focussed on plant-based sprays and compost teas and cover crops with the aim to get to permanent cover and eliminate ploughing altogether to produce grapes that allow him to make wine with wild yeasts for fermentation and little or no sulphites. Tom is actually allergic to sulphites and therefore has a no added sulphites (NAS) approach. His philosophy is that if the cover crop is right, it will shade the soils and allow for the lower average temperatures in the vineyards which in turn gives the fruit better balance and means lower potential alcohol and lower pH but sufficient acid strength for a healthy fermentation and a wine that does not need protection using additives like sulphur dioxide. Tom has opted to stop de-stemming and treading grapes. He sold his de-stemmer in 2008 at the same time he stopped pigeage and he has not bottled a wine with more than 10mg/litre total–legally zero–sulfur dioxide