Posted by: tomciocco | May 14, 2014

BANDOL: THE BEST ROSE` THERE IS?

I’ve often mused on the notion that there are undoubtedly truly great red wines, and truly great white wines as well, but there are few to no rose` wines that are ever mentioned in the same breath with names like Barolo or Montrachet. I’m still not sure why this is – is there something inherently “neither here nor there” about pink wine that makes it an oenologically second-class citizen, or is it that there’s simply no market for world-class rose`, or could it be that nearly every producer views pink wine as an inherently lesser thing, and consequently just don’t put as much energy into producing it or use lesser quality fruit in its production? It doesn’t seem logical that it’s impossible that roses absolutely cannot attain the heights of the best reds or whites, but in almost every case, what wines up in the bottle seems to support this supposition.

But if there can be or indeed are truly fine rose` wines, southern France is undoubtedly where they come from, and at least in my experience, the seaside, sun-bleached Provencal appellation of Bandol is the apotheosis. For me, much of this is attributable to to Mourvedre grape. Mourvedre is a very dense, intense, and “serious” black-skinned grape variety that in Bandol (and elsewhere), when unalloyed, produces powerful, dark and chunky reds, and indeed Bandol roses from producers like Tempier, Terrebrune or Pradeaux, all of whom make their roses exclusively from Mourvedre, in its paler incarnation, for me lead the pack, bar none.

This evening’s Bandol rose` is something different stylistically from the aforementioned top-notch (and quite pricy) pinks, but for what it is, it is also a very fine wine indeed. Instead of being made exclusively from Mourvedre, this wine is made from a blend of 50% Cinsault, 25% Mourvedre and 25% Grenache, so rather than yielding a big, bold rose` that would come from an unblended Mourvedre wine, this is a wine that moves this sort of power and depth to the second rank, choosing instead to feature Cinsault’s lively minerality which is balanced by Grenache’s unabashedly exuberant fruit. This is not a blend that makes for a wine that is nearly a red wine in a pink outfit like those mentioned above, but it is nonetheless a lighter take on the sophistication, profundity and complexity  for which Bandol rose`wines are so justifiably famous.

I matched this very delicious and crisp wine with a first course of a pureed chick pea soup made with chicken broth, olive oil, cumin, bay leaf, mint, oregano and rosemary followed by a main course of crepes spread with a run-down of spinach, tomato and smoked salmon, that I then rolled and baked and utimately dressed with an orange bechamel sauce.

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Le Galantin Bandol Rose` 2013

Quite pale brownish pink color. Forward nose of strawberry, cantaloupe, pink grapefruit, brook water, pine oil, lightly toasted marshmallow, and lavender. In the mouth the wine shows a light, lacy and wiry structure with a chewy texture and a dry, tart acidity that holds elegant flavors of raspberry, blueberry, peach, toasted almond, and fresh herbs. Fresh and clean bitterish finish.

 

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