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Domaine Tempier Bandol La Tourtine 1998

Just two weeks ago I found myself in Nice - as you do - and I decided to make a return trip to Bandol, a town (and appellation) which I last visited in 2005. It wasn't a last minute decision; the hire car was booked, my driver's licence was ready in my pocket, and my sat-nav was reserved. Leaving my hotel at 8am, I walked the short distance to the hire office next to the main railway station at Nice, only to discover the office was temporarily closed, while the clerk checked the vehicles in the garage which is across the road. On her return I then discovered that the car hire firm had reserved my car at the airport. It wasn't an auspicious start to my day.

TempierFortunately these teething troubles were soon resolved, and I managed to escape the suburbs of Nice and join the west-bound carriageway of the A8 on my second attempt. My sat-nav was proving quite useless; instead of offering helpful directions when I got lost the machine merely deigned to inform me "you have gone off-route" before adopting a stony silence. All the same, less than two hours later I hit Bandol, where I made two visits. The first was to Bunan, very much a flying visit, before an afternoon appointment at Tempier, although because I had to be back in Nice for 5pm this was also a rather rushed affair. Nevertheless it was an excellent experience. I drove up to the Tempier property without making a single wrong turn, locating it within a minute of arriving in Plan de Castellet, whilst the sat-nav remained mute; such triumphant navigation, based on memories laid down three years ago, was most unusual for me but, as time was short, it was a most welcome success. Once there I had a good look around the cellars and a brief walk in the vineyards. Around the house where the Peyraud family have resided for many years there are large plots of vines (in the foreground, right) which are the source of the domaine's entry-level wine, the Cuvée Classique. In the distance, however, running up the slope is the Tourtine vineyard, and at the foot, hidden behind the trees and buildings, is the Cabassaou section.

TempierReturning to Nice where I had an urgent evening appointment was not without incident. Nevertheless not every moment of the day is worth recounting; what is worth mentioning is that on my return to the UK I eagerly pulled a bottle of Tempier's 1998 Bandol La Tourtine from the cellar, adding it to an already well-stocked line-up of wines for my annual ten years on tasting, this year the 1998 vintage. And I am glad I did so; it is a quite remarkable wine. It has a fine, dark hue in the glass, although there is maturity here too, a deep oxblood tone which is very evident just at the rim. The nose, however, is just beautiful, showing a fresh, clean and well-defined character which fails to betray this wine's ten years of age. It has a fine, perfumed, violet bouquet, with a charcoaly, stony, mineral edge, but also deep, rich and ripe mature fruit. It seems savoury, elegant, pure and crystalline all in the same breath. I find it quite captivating, certainly enticing at the very least, The palate has a fine and fresh character which reflects that found on the nose, with a pure seam of ripe, coaly tannin, with perfumed fruit. Fresh, firm, sinewy in its substance, pure and also elegant, this has a really fabulous style and I suspect it will go for years in the cellar yet, improving with time. But it is superbly approachable, and certainly delicious, right now. 18.5+/20 (17/11/08)

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