Archive for February, 2004

WINE TASTING – Bandol

Wednesday, February 25th, 2004

Cold winter weather is the perfect season to drink big, bold red wines. Bandol is a region in southern France that makes an unappreciated red wine made from the Mourvedre grape. Bandol is located near the Mediterranean between the towns of Marseille and Toulon. Although these red wines have been produced here for over 100 years, they are far less known than the wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy. The wines from Bandol are not bashful; they are big meaty wines that can age for years. Bandols do not exhibit the finesse of a great Bordeaux or Burgundy in their youth; but they have the backbone and flavor to age beautifully. I might compare these wines to a huge Rhone wine with a touch of gaminess thrown in. Of all the Bandols we tasted, these were the favorites:

Domaine Tempier 2000 – ($36)
The favorite. This a rich, bold, deep red wine that is as smooth as velvet. Tons of fruit fill the palate, and it is perfectly balanced with spices, vanilla and a rustic earthiness. This wine could age for years, but with some decanting it would be delicious this weekend.
Chateau Pradeaux 1998 – ($25)
This was the oldest Bandol tasted, and it still had a lot of tannin. This wine is a blockbuster, very bold with layers of dark fruit, cinnamon and leather. Pradeaux is a favorite of Robert Parker, and would certainly be a candidate for the wine cellar.
Domaine Gros Nore 2000 – ($17)
This wine is lighter than the first two, but still exhibits that spiciness indicative of the mourvedre grape. Gros Nore is a powerful wine with a lot of forward fruit, pepper and cinnamon. An extremely dry wine that would match perfectly with a grilled steak.

The Wine Cellar

Monday, February 23rd, 2004

During the last 10 years, the weather has been excellent for the wine crops around the world. Some years have been better than others, but in general, most of the wine released during that period has been above average. However, be prepared for some radical changes. Did you notice The Wine Spectator’s rating for the 2002 vintage? Both Southern Rhone and Tuscany scored in the 70s, which is an extremely low score. And do you remember the heat wave this past summer in Europe? It should make 2003 a very challenging vintage.

Now would be a prudent time to accumulate some pre 2002 vintages from these regions. More specifically, I would buy Chateauneuf du Pape and Bandol from Southern Rhone. From Tuscany, I would buy Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and your favorite Super Tuscans.