Monday, August 27, 2012

More on Bandol


Bandol, one of Provence's oldest wine growing regions, is located near the Mediterranean Coast. Driving through the region, you see medieval villages, terraced vineyards on the hillsides and glimpses of the sea. It can only be described as picturesque. In general, the topsoil is gravel and stone dominated lying over clay, limestone and sandstone. Mourvedre is the most important grape when thinking about Bandol Red and Rosé wine. The climate is Mediterranean and during my time there, the locals actually apologized for what they felt were unusally high temperatures but, of course, it was not even close to the brutal heat of Houston in August. While I was in Bandol, it was blue skies and sunshine with gentle breezes making for a most beautiful day.
After a couple of extra spins through a roundabout, we finally made it to the Chateau Romassan estate of Domaines Ott. This estate lies at the foot of the village of Le Castellet in the center of the Bandol appellation and it has about 150 acres in use for wine production. The Ott family set up shop here in 1956 and family members are still involved today though it is owned and managed by Champagne Louis Roederer. We tasted their Rosé Coeur de Grain which is comprised of 55% Mourvedre, 30% Cinsault and 15% Grenache. In addition to the expected berry flavors, this wine had a distinct fresh peach character. It was refreshing and fruity with good acidity and a bit more body than some of the Cote de Provence Roses we had been enjoying. It also seemed to have a bit more minerality. As it was approaching lunch time, we headed outside to look over the estate and vineyards before going to eat. The grounds are absolutely beautiful with the seemingly endless rows of vines and olive trees. The building dates back to the 18th century.

We went into La Cadiere d' Azur, a medieval village, located in the heart of the Bandol wine country. After a bit of sight seeing, we sat down at Restaurant L' Arlequin to have a pizza, seemingly a staple food group along the coast. My husband and I were talking when I noticed the couple next to us blatantly eavesdropping. After a bit of laughter, we all got to talking. They were local and they were very interested in our take on their beautiful country. We ended up sharing a bottle of 2010 Chateau de La Noblesse Rosé with them over lunch. This was a wine that they chose so it was interesting to see what the residents of Bandol would pick to have with their meal. The wine was tasty and we had a lovely time. She shared many ideas on what we should do when we returned to Bandol for our next visit.

After lunch, we did our tour of Domaine La Suffrene which I wrote about in my prior post. After we left there, we decided to just go to one more winery, Domaine Le Galantin. The Pascal family started this winery and continues to run it with daughter Celine now in charge. While the facility was not as much of a showplace as the other two that we had visited, the vineyards are organically farmed on clay and sandy soil on old restanque terraces and the winery has been modernized. There seemed to be a continuous stream of locals coming in to purchase wine while we there. We tasted their 2011 Rosé and two different bottles of red wine, the 2009 and the 2000. Again, the Rosé was more full bodied, it was crisp with a fresh berry character. The reds seemed to have more of the savory, meaty character, particularly the 2000 which was made by Celine's father, Achille.

Overall, we enjoyed our day in Bandol and left realizing that we had not see or tasted nearly enough. There does seem to be a basic similarity to the wines that gives you a sense of the place from which they came. They are not producing anonymous wines that could be from anywhere, the uncommon grapes and the terroir driven style make for wines that are uniquely Bandol. I am looking forward to trying some of the red wines that we purchased many years down the road to see them at their best.

We were back in Cannes in time for our dinner reservation at Gaston Gastounette looking out over the harbor. We ordered the one bottle of Bandol Rosé that was on the menu to enjoy while we talked about our day and what we would do on our next trip. Salut!



Related posts:
Wine in Provence