I have a secret penchant for Bandol. Well, to be honest, I have secret penchants for a variety of wine styles, from Burgundy, the Mosel, Limoux, Rioja and beyond. But there is something special about the rich slightly animally complexity and indestructable character of Mourvèdre, and there is nowhere better to get a fix of it than Bandol.
Domaine Tempier remains for me the benchmark, although I don’t pretend to be an expert on the region, and so things may have changed. There are certainly other estates turning out good wines, and no doubt other undscovered gems. Recently I had a chance encounter with an unfamiliar domaine, and a rather modern interpretation of the appellation, with this wine from Château Salettes.
Château Salettes Bandol 2010: This is one of those wines that really benefits from some time in a decanter, even if it is a very short period of time. At first glance the wine is all primary fruit, raspberry and blackberry, with a rather obvious seam of caramelised-sugar oak coming through underneath, both aromatically and on the palate. But give it half an hour and it has changed completely. The wine, dark at its core but with a concentrated violet rim, begins to reveal more of the gamey and funky side of the Mourvèdre, and the sweeter oak notes slide away to be replaced by drier, woody, more garrigue-like tones, with a denser, more roasted-cherry fruit. The palate has plenty of texture at the very start, with some good grip behind though, as well as a slightly spirity heat to it. The fruit is grainy and concentrated and rather modern in style, whereas the structure feels more antiquated, the finish savoury, and dry, with some tannin giving a little bit of bite here although this structural element is really well integrated and it is the tingling warmth of the wine that really comes to dominate. Alcohol 15%. 14.5/20 (February 2013)
Disclosure: this wine was a trade sample sent by proprietor Nicolas Boyer.