Agnès Henry of La Tour du Bon in Le Castellet has crafted the most delicate and ethereal of all our Bandol rosés this year. Her vines sit on an exposed hillside of pure limestone in the aptly named lieu-dit of Le Brûlat, and they tend to suffer a bit and produce small, concentrated berries. She therefore harvests some of her Mourvèdre early and blends with a healthy portion of the light-bodied Cinsault to give a floral, elegant, pale-hued rosé—a quintessential Provençal treat in the heat of summer. Serve well chilled, and plan for an extra bottle!
I think my best recent Bandol blanc story is the one Kermit shared with me last December about a bottle of 1952 Sanary Blanc (AOC Bandol) he enjoyed in Provence along with his son, Anthony, Jean-Marie Peyraud, and Alain Pascal. He wrote me immediately to share the incredible tale of this sublime wine without a hint of oxidation. I can’t promise you that this bottle from Reynald Delille will turn into the same magical, timeless elixir, but it has the highest probability of any wine being made in Bandol today. Delille’s incredible terroir of Trias limestone in view of the Mediterranean produces a white that is built to provide pleasure over many years. Saline, herbal, with mirabelle yellow plum, it develops additional nuance and complexity as the years roll by. I have yet to taste a tired bottle from my ten-year vertical.
A visit with Alain Pascal in La Cadière d’Azur in June confirmed that his vintage 2016 rouge is one that will grace my California table often. Most likely as Jim Harrison might have enjoyed it, with copious quantities of crushed garlic and red meat (wild game, if I can get my hands on some—my southern roots are distant out here in California—I need to find someone who will trade me hunting rights for wine!). Alain’s largely whole-cluster Mourvèdre in 2016 is a dark beauty, a tapenade of black olives infused with wild southern herbs, earth, and stones, with a glorious tannin that shows no aggression.