French house numbers jump around along a road. Up and down they go, seemingly at random, rooted not in any physical reality, nor indeed in relation to each other. Charming in a laissez-faire French-y kind of way, but anathema to the art of navigation.
Miraculously ‘though, once we had found Domaine de Terrebrune, we were only 30 minutes late. Little matter, especially as, according to them, we were in fact a full 21 days late. Which I suppose makes the charm, ease and generosity we then encountered all the more impressive.
|Bonjour from Domaine Terrebrune|
The Domaine Terrbrune was bought originally in 1963 and planted mostly to Mourvedre. Allegedly when the founder Georeges Delille was told by Lucien Peyraud of Domaine Tempier “You have gold under your feet.”
And indeed the Terroir here is striking. The soils from which the Domaine takes it’s name are a dark, dusty reddish-brown. The vineyards are elevated behind the town of Bandol, but in the hills and woodland that block the view of the sea there is a gap, a perfect channel for cooling sea breezes straight to the vines.
|Those brown soils|
It gives the wines a mineralic structure, not common in this very hot area of France. They’re not big, but they’re bony, with fine acidity that gives the legs for extended ageing.
Georges’ son Reynald now runs the estate with the with a quietly understated passion. In the vineyards (we were there during harvest) he is constantly checking the vines and tasting the fruit whilst talking to us. In the winery his enthusiasm, particularly for the ageability of the wines, needs no encouraging. Whilst the Rose and White are fermented in steel and then released young, the red spends a further 18 months in foudres, and two years in bottle before release. ‘Though that’s not to say the rose can’t age too- in their cave they have bottles of it going back to the 1980s.
|2012 Rouge in barrel|
The range of wines Reynald opened for us is emblematic of the spirited generosity, and pride, that is so easy to encounter amongst French winemakers. My notes:
2012 Bandol Blanc – Striking herbaceousness. Green fruit. Acidity and lemons on the palate, but grassy. Not 100% convinced by this.
2009 Bandol Rouge – Lovely nose, gorgeous, rich pure dark fruit. The palate brims with a spiky, sour-blackberry acid streak and a long minerality. Absolutely love it. Will go decades.
2008 Bandol Rouge – Duskier, red earth, leather a little spice. Feels balanced now and a great expression of Bandol. The fruit is in check. This is stonier, a real expression of the domaine’s Terroir. Long life ahead.
2007 Bandol Rouge – Like the previous, but with the elements turned down just a touch. Nice balance though.
2003 Bandol Rouge – Like 2009 another hot year. There’s much more ripe fruit on the nose sweet raspberries. It still has backbone, but is more generous. Drinking gorgeously now.
1991 Bandol Rouge – This is becoming more Bordeaux like. Some funk and earth on the nose, but still lush, generous fruit on the palate. The acidity has faded into the wine, and the tannins barely whisper. Needs food and not for everyone, but a class act.
2012 Bandol Rose – Rose tasted after the reds. My French not good enough to understand the explication on this one, but it doesn’t detract. The nose is so pure. Slate-y, buckets of minerality. Really fine light citrus and strawberry fruit. Beautiful balance. Beautiful.
1997 Bandol Rose – Golden orange. Apples. Oxidation? Peynald says ‘evolution’. Whatever, it’s not there on the palate. Sumptuous weight. Honey, quince. Stones. More like white Burgundy. Difficult to understand at first, but glorious at the last.
2012 Bandol Rouge - From barrel, another six months elevage then two years in bottle before release. This is good. Sappy, fresh red fruit. Pure and mineral. Gives the impression it’s going to be a real winner.
|The charming Reynald, with my equally charming mother|
We currently stock 2012 Rose and 2008 Rouge. £21 and £25 respectively. 2009 on the way.