Perfectly mature, beguilingly scented Bandol from Domaine Tempier

I’ve long been a fan of Domaine Tempier, especially when I could pick up 1990s from a shop in Oxford for a mere tenner per bottle. Prices, alas, have escalated to a level that makes my credit card whine pitifully so I fear more recent vintages will not get a place in my cellar. A shame, as this bottle shows they are fragrant beauties when mature.

That being said, I do wonder if more recent vintages will show quite aromatic complexity that characterises this wine. Since Tempier got a new wine maker for the 2001 vintage the wines have been cleaned up to an incredible extent. They are now conspicuously themed on inordinately high alcohol levels and have fruit so stewed in character it’d be a winner in the jam-section of any provincial Women’s Institute show. I’m pleased the Brett issue is now under control, but I passionately feel compositions of raw alcohol and cooked fruit are not what I want to drink.

For many years I found myself developing a sneaking preference for the Bandol of Chateau de Pibarnon, which was confirmed when Editor Daniel popped a stunning 1987 during my 30th birthday celebrations. That wine complimented grilled liver sausage with engaging equanimity. So I was pleased to be able to score a magnum of the 2001 and some bottles of more recent vintages. Then I hear from my agents that the winemaker of Pibarnon doesn’t feel his wines will age as well as once they did. Bums. I was severely vexed to learn that, I don’t mind telling you. So what, we are left wondering, should the lover of cellar-worthy Bandol be buying? I suppose I’ll have to give Domaine Gros Nore another stab. Up until 1997 they sold their fruit to Pibarnon which I feel speaks volumes about its quality. I was rather taken with [link2post id=”1053″]their 2000 Bandol I tried a couple of years ago[/link2post].

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Bandol Cuvee speciale La Tourtine 1998, Domaine Tempier

This nose is charged with an arsehole-themed, herbal, meaty, scented wonderfulness that has me salivating more than Pavlov’s dogs at a campanolgy competition. I find mature Mourvedre’s sophisticated, perfumed qualities, especially in Bandol, to be so charged with panache that its oft-encountered bum-hole Brett character has to be pretty overt to repel me. The fruit on the nose is delectably soft with complex, mature flavours. Indeed the over-riding tone of its nose, beyond its arse aromas and slight alcohol burn, is one of complexity. This is serious Bandol that is flashing its most alluring charms. The palate has the remains of what were once serious, structured tannins, now feeling softly smooth and silken. These are a perfect compliment to its abundant, sophisticated, perfectly mature fruit flavours and intricate earthy richness. Totally up for drinking and delivering impressively classy style. I’d start drinking them sooner rather than later as it is not going to be charged with any more lubricious loveliness than this. I feel I caught this, my last bottle of 98, a point – quite the most enjoyable Tourtine I’ve had in a while.