Bandol is a small (2,500 acre) AC on the Mediterranean coast of France, a suntrap of hills around a small port and resort town. Its most familiar wines are rosé, but the reds are the wines worth seeking out. The stout product primarily of Mourvedre grapes, red Bandol is a wine that needs age. Kermit Lynch, who brought Bandol to the United States, says it “doesn’t even get into its prime” until it’s at least 10 years old. Alice Waters, the legendary chef, says, “Bandol rouge has been the love of my life.”
The Mourvedre…gives the wine a dark, brooding depth, almost mysterious with its opaque color in the glass, and the dense, concentrated mouthfeel. Robust and feral, the wine gains momentum in the glass, taking in oxygen and releasing increasing glimpses into its shadowy personae.
I’ve seen Bandol in only two stores in Louisville: Westport Whiskey & Wine has Gros Noré and Chateau de Pibarnon, and the Party Center in Prospect occaisionally stocks Pibarnon. (It seems to me I’ve run into Bandol in a local restaurant, but I can’t remember where.) The definitive Bandol is Domaine Tempier, and at this point it doesn’t even have a Kentucky distributor. Reason enough, I say, to legalize direct shipment.