We had high expectations for the Bandol rosé wines sampled at this month’s Imbibe New York Wine Club meet. After all, for rosé, these wines from Provence don’t come cheap. The selections we drew were equally surprising–no repeat bottles (of a wine that’s not exactly available everywhere), and the photo above excludes one of the better wines that we savored that night. Another unexpected, yet consistent element is the alcohol content–13.5% to 14%! And while the high abv wasn’t immediately apparent in all the wines, a few of the bottles that we tasted were sublime, while others were simply disappointments.
A blend of Mourvedre, Grenache, and Cinsault–it’s the presence of Mourvedre that might inspire one to lay their Bandol down. But since we had no patience nor time aside for that, we uncorked and greedily drank a number of 2009s.
Beginning with the best of the bunch–Domaine Tempier 2009 is a rosé that rocked our pink socks. Fresh strawberry with a hint of nectarine, followed by funk, minerality, and a white pepper finish. The acidity is like an A-frame atop a foundation of stone and slate, and on the last sip I detected a spray of ocean mist.
Secondhand love went to Château Pradeaux 2009–a melody of mineral water, savory herbs, and Fuji/Gala apples. Jennifer had a shining moment, coaxed by a few, narrowing the red apple flavors to Fuji. “Don’t go into the light Carol-Anne,” warned Kelleigh, trying to reign Jennifer in. On some nights, there’s only so much specificity that can be verbalized before the eyes start a rolling…and usually it’s me who’s the culprit!
Château Vannieres La Cadiere D’Azur 2009–another bottle that aims to please. “Cherry Ludens coughdrops,” noted Jennifer. But I detected FUNK. There’s citrus acidity, that bleeds past the finish, a drop of petrol, and a sprinkle of talc. Amongst the strata is a thin layer of salinity, and bitter strawberries.
The Domaine Castell-Reynoard 2009 is a runner-up, but no podium post. There’s lots of rocks on the nose that segue seamlessly first to fresh peppermint, followed by strawberry fruit. There’s a bitterness to the minerally finish. Perhaps it’s the simplicity that keeps this one drafting off the front runners of the pack.
Now for the dark side of the Bandol moon. Domaine du Gros Noré 2009. Fumigation by imitation designer scents. Spring Breeze scented laundry detergent—concentrate. A soapy lavender cachet. Either way, it left me gagging in the elevator looking for the ceiling exit.
Château Jean-Pierre Gaussen 2009. Funny. This label reads 13% but the wine reeks of alcohol, strawberry, and heat—like the breath of a drunk in a depot donning thrice worn leather boots.
Domaine Dupuy de Lôme 2009. This final bottle isn’t offensive, but it does lack complexity. Sidewalk chalk instead of talc. Watermelon Jolly Rancher in lieu of fresh fruit. The strawberry infused minerality is a nice place to start, but mid-palate the action comes to a screaming halt.
Imbibe New York will be on vacation for the next couple of weeks…enjoy the tail end of your summer and see you in September!