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When done right, Bandol Rouge is one of the most soulful, age-worthy red wines on the planet. It’s also one of the few reds that showcases the Mourvèdre grape—not usually in its entirety, but in a majority percentage—resulting in dark, wild, perfumed reds that viscerally evoke their Provençal surroundings. We had a visceral reaction to this one, for sure—in fact, I haven’t come across a Bandol red this profound and expressive in quite some time (and that includes all the usual big-name suspects). Uncompromisingly classic, structured for long-term cellaring, and dripping with spicy, herbal intrigue, this is a bona-fide “collectible” at an unusually modest price. It is guaranteed to impress—and improve. Don’t miss it!
Situated in a terraced, south-facing amphitheater near the Mediterranean Sea, the Bandol AOC’s best vineyards are rooted in pebbly clays over a solid bedrock of limestone, a soil composition that lends the wines a firm acid/mineral backbone. These soils, combined with the intense Mediterranean sun, have proved ideal for the late-ripening Mourvèdre grape, the signature variety of the appellation’s red wines.
Château Sainte-Anne has been practicing organic viticulture since the 1960s, so to call them “early adopters” is putting it rather mildly. Seventy-five percent of the estate’s production is red, followed by 20% rosé and 5% white, sourced from 15 hectares of vineyards situated mere miles from the Mediterranean Sea. The estate is managed by Françoise Dutheil and her son, Jean-Baptiste, with maximum respect for their environment.
The cépage (blend) of this 2017 is based on 60% Mourvèdre with equal amounts of Grenache and Cinsault in support. All fruit is completely de-stemmed and fermented on wild yeasts in stainless steel vats for about 15 days. Manual punch-downs are conducted daily during fermentation. Once malolactic fermentation is completed, the finished wine is transferred by gravity to 50-hectoliter oak foudres, where it ages for 20-22 months
Ruby-black in color, with notes of black pepper and a fair amount of grainy tannin. If consuming now, decant about 60 minutes before serving at 60-65 degrees in Bordeaux stems and you’ll get express passage to Provence: black currant, black plum, roasted fruit and cassis meet cigar tobacco, leather, and cracked pepper. Everything is wrapped with lavender, juniper, and dried flower notes. It’s a beautiful and mysterious red, best served at 60-65 degrees in Bordeaux stems and paired with braised lamb or veal shanks. That will be a meal to remember. Cheers!
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