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Over the years, as client demand for the western, Languedoc-Roussillon end has waned, our own focus has centred on the truly extraordinary wines of Provence and in particular the diverse and fascinating terroirs of Bandol. This marvellous, amphitheatre of an appellation is protected by hills on three sides and open to the Mediterranean to the south. Like many great regions, Bandol is an ancient seabed, lifted out of the water by the action of the Alps and complicated by further tectonic activity. Wine has been made in Bandol since ancient times but the modern history of the appellation goes back to the beginning of the 20th century and the rediscovery of the district’s signature grape, Mourvedre, following the ravages of Phyloxera and the decision to favour ‘easier’ grapes in the replanting which followed.
The rosés of Bandol have given the region a huge new global audience
The red wines of Bandol, which must contain a majority of Mourvedre, though in practice usually possess 80% of the grape, can equal the very best wines of France: deep, savoury, herbal and sanguinary. The southern sun enriching the wines but thanks to the properties of the variety, always fresh and focussed with a strong tannic scaffold.
The pinks are never the frivolous ‘dishwater’ rosés found elsewhere in Provence but serious wines which while utterly beguiling in their first summer – and indeed nearly impossible to resist – many clients like to cellar Bandol rosé for a year or two: the primary orange peel and summer berry fruit mellowing with time in bottle.
A little white is also made: the noble Clairette ‘cut’ with Ugni Blanc (Trebbiano in Italy) to produce a wine which is uncommonly fresh for so torrid an environment.