The myth of “rosé season” has led to throngs of thirsty consumers lining up to buy anything pink sold in a wine bottle as early as April, as well as scores of sad retailers weeping over stagnating case stacks come October. So, as a frustrated wine salesman, I have honorably dedicated fifteen minutes of my life to this here electronic proclamation that not all rosés should be limited to a six-month lifespan. Take Bandol rosé, for instance: it features a generous portion of Mourvèdre, a grape so sturdy that local merchants in a bygone era were known to load up casks of the wine into the hull of their nautical vessels simply to take it for a spin, hoping the journey would soften its rough edges and render the stuff more drinkable. Sure, times have changed, but it goes to show that a few months’ time in bottle will certainly not be the downfall of wines starring this noble variety. In fact, the rosé from Domaine de la Tour du Bon has just hit its stride. Aromas of peach, grapefruit, and thyme—reticent just a month ago—are now blossoming, while it has gone from rather stern to delicate and silky on the palate. It has entered its peak drinking window, which will last through next summer, if past vintages are any indicator. This Bandol’s exceptional ability to pair with anything set down on the table is yet another reason why “rosé season” is simply treason. However, dwindling stocks have inspired me to compose this call to action: act now, before stocking-up-on-rosé-season is over!
Domaine de la Tour du Bon rests atop a limestone plateau in the northwestern corner of the A.O.C. Bandol, nestled beneath the mountains to the North. It is a bastion of tranquility, a Mediterranean oasis surrounded by beautiful gardens and vineyards. The Hocquard family has been farming this land since 1968, situated at an altitude of 150 meters above sea-level. Fourteen hectares of red earth, clay, sand, and gravel rest upon sturdy limestone bedrock; brow-beating excavation and focused determination alone built these vineyards. Today, Agnès Henry runs the show. Independent, quick to laugh, and modest, Agnès has come into her own. Who better to make the wine than the person who knows the story of the land the best?
Perhaps there is no region more closely aligned with the history to Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant than Provence. Provence is where Richard Olney, an American ex-pat and friend of Alice Waters, lived, and introduced Kermit to the great producers of Provence, most importantly Domaine Tempier of Bandol. Kermit also spends upwards of half his year at his home in a small town just outside of Bandol.
Vitis vinifera first arrived in France via Provence, landing in the modern day port city of Marseille in the 6th century BC. The influence of terroir on Provençal wines goes well beyond soil types. The herbs from the pervasive scrubland, often referred to as garrigue, as well as the mistral—a cold, drying wind from the northwest that helps keep the vines free of disease—play a significant role in the final quality of the grapes. Two more elements—the seemingly ever-present sun and cooling saline breezes from the Mediterranean—lend their hand in creating a long growing season that result in grapes that are ripe but with good acidity.
Rosé is arguably the most well known type of wine from Provence, but the red wines, particularly from Bandol, possess a great depth of character and ability to age. The white wines of Cassis and Bandol offer complexity and ideal pairings for the sea-influenced cuisine. Mourvèdre reigns king for red grapes, and similar to the Languedoc and Rhône, Grenache, Cinsault, Marsanne, Clairette, Rolle, Ugni Blanc among many other grape varieties are planted.
Let the brett nerds retire into protective bubbles, and whenever they thirst for wine it can be passed in to them through a sterile filter. Those of us on the outside can continue to enjoy complex, natural, living wines.
Inspiring Thirst, page 236
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