Domaine Tempier La Cabassaou Bandol Cuvee Speciale 2002
Blend: 95% Mourvedre, 4% Syrah, 1% Cinsault
Bandol is a small appellation on the Mediterranean, granted AOC status in 1941. For centuries it has produced some of the longest-lived wines in France, using primarily the Mourvedre grape. Wines from this region have unique aromatic properties which many claim come from the dry Provencal herbs which cover the hillsides: thyme, savory, rosemary, wild mint and fennel.
Domaine Tempier's rose, considered to by many to be the finest in France, is fuller and creamier on the palate and shows dimensions not often found in rose. Perhaps the addition of young Mourvedre is responsible, or the Peyraud's allowance for the wine to follow its natural inclination and complete malolactic fermentation.
More than just a European vacation hotspot and rosé capital of the world, Provence, in southeastern France, is a coastal appellation producing interesting wines of all colors. The warm, breezy Mediterranean climate is ideal for grape growing and the diverse terrain and soil types allow for a variety of wine styles within the region. Adjacent to the Rhône Valley, Provence shares some characteristics with this northwestern neighbor—namely, the fierce mistral wind and the plentiful wild herbs (such as rosemary, lavender, juniper and thyme) often referred to as garrigue. The largest appellation here is Côtes de Provence, followed by Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence.
Provence is internationally acclaimed for dry, refreshing, pale-hued rosé wines, which make up the vast majority of the region’s production. These are typically blends, often dominated by Mourvèdre and supplemented by Grenache, Cinsault, Tibouren and other varieties.
A small amount of full-bodied, herbal white wine is made here—particularly from the Cassis appellation, of Clairette and Marsanne. Other white varieties used throughout Provence include Roussane, Sémillon, Vermentino (known locally as Rolle) and Ugni Blanc.
Perhaps the most interesting wines of the region, however, are the red wines of Bandol. Predominantly Mourvèdre, these are powerful, structured, and ageworthy wines with lush berry fruit and savory characteristics of earth and spice.
Full of ripe fruit, and robust, earthy goodness, Mourvèdre is actually of Spanish provenance, where it still goes by the name Monastrell or Mataro. It is better associated however, with the Red Blends of the Rhône, namely Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Mourvèdre shines on its own in Bandol and is popular both as a single varietal wine in blends in the New World regions of Australia, California and Washington. Somm Secret—While Mourvèdre has been in California for many years, it didn’t gain momentum until the 1980s when a group of California winemakers inspired by the wines of the Rhône Valley finally began to renew a focus on it.