Domaine de Terrebrune Bandol Rose 2017
Pair with mixed salads, crustaceans and rockfish, white meat, Provencal cuisine, but also exotic dishes.
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Terrebrune means “brown earth” in French, a reference to the color of the soil that overlays the blue-limestone bedrock at Reynald Delille’s estate in Ollioules. Mourvèdre thrives here, taking on the chewy density that defines Bandol reds—a quality that also informs this rosé. Close your eyes and you may, in fact, mistake it for a darker wine, with its musky, floral fruit scents and meaty cherry flavors; meanwhile, notes of forest floor and sea spray place the wine squarely on the Mediterranean coast. It’s ready for sliced steak salads this summer, or a long spell in the cellar.
One of the stars of my blind tasting was Terrebrune's 2017 Bandol Rose, a blend of 60% Mourvèdre with 20% each Cinsault and Grenache. Crushed stone and briny notes accent peach aromas, while the medium-bodied palate is creamy and complex, a whirl of savory-umami flavors that finish salty and long.
Before acquiring vineyards, Georges Delille trained as a sommelier in Paris. In 1963, he bought what would become Domaine de Terrebrune, a property in Ollioules, just east of Bandol, framed by the Mediterranean and the mountain called Gros-Cerveau (Big Brain), dotted with olive groves and scenic views—an idyllic spot. During the years following the declaration of A.O.C. Bandol (1941), mass overhauling and reconstruction of vineyards were commonplace, and vignerons were eager to revive the noble Mourvèdre grape. Georges spent ten years just renovating the property; he terraced hillsides, refashioned the masonry, replanted vineyards following the advice of Lucien Peyraud, designated soils to lie dormant and regenerate, and built a new cellar. In 1980, his son Reynald joined him after finishing winemaking school, and together they launched their first bottled vintage of Domaine de Terrebrune, which Reynald named in honor of the rich, brown soils they farm.
Provence’s leader in concentrated and age-worthy red wines, Bandol is home to the dense, deep and earthy Mourvèdre grape. Like Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Bandol produces characterful reds that, while approachable in their youth, are typically designed for the cellar. Given its coastal, Provencal situation, Bandol naturally produces an assortment of charming, aromatic rosés made of Mourvèdre, Grenache and Cinsault.
Whether it’s playful and fun or savory and serious, most rosé today is not your grandmother’s White Zinfandel, though that category remains strong. Pink wine has recently become quite trendy, and this time around it’s commonly quite dry. It is produced throughout the world from a vast array of grape varieties, but the most successful sources are California, southern France (particularly Provence), and parts of Spain and Italy.
Since the pigment in red wines comes from keeping fermenting juice in contact with the grape skins for an extended period, it follows that a pink wine can be made using just a brief period of skin contact—usually just a couple of days. The resulting color will depend on the grape variety and the winemaking style, ranging from pale salmon to deep magenta. These wines are typically fresh and fruity, fermented at cool temperatures in stainless steel to preserve the primary aromas and flavors. Most rosé, with a few notable exceptions, should be drunk rather young, within a few years of the vintage.