Comte de Saint Victor “Château de Pibarnon” 2000 Bandol (Provence) – Halfway to excellence, but the halfsies are evident in the disjointed structural imbalances, which are slightly stewy and tending towards the fluffy at the moment. That’s not, I think, where this wine will end up. Otherwise, there’s blackened meat liqueur and herbal tincture…a pretty classic Bandol signature, with a rocky underbelly seemingly characteristic of this house. Wait on it. (11/12)
Comte de Saint Victor “Château de Pibarnon” 2001 Bandol (Provence) – Very difficult, for a fairly long time. Sweaty, thready, reticent. Not even up to a good bout of surly. After about an hour, the wine within starts to peek at its surroundings, with the classic sweetening of mourvèdre as it expands – from smoked meat to smoked berry – taking the fore. If there’s a flaw, it’s that there seems to be a little polish or burnishing that’s damping the complexity, but the wine’s in such a trouble adolescence that it’s really not possible to do more than grumble subaudibly at the notion. Hold this, if you own any. (6/12)
Tempier 1998 Marc de Provence (Provence) – France is rife – one might legitimately say littered – with distillates that almost no one knows. Of all the European spirits that have been aggressively, relentlessly exported, the micro-marcs are so far down the queue that there’s little hope of ever seeing them out-of-region.
And thus, one must drink them in situ. Or at least in restaurant. I have, I admit, a bit of a fetish for asking after such spirits, but it’s all too often the case that the obvious liquids are so obvious to my interlocutor that they don’t arise in conversation. And when they do, it’s often in the negative: “oh, that’s…rough” as the declination goes. I was turned away from spirits like this very one countless times, in hotel and restaurant bars.
I don’t brag to say that I’m no ordinary drinker; I’ve learned to like the chaos of the private distillation, and I don’t discredit those who would, looking after my well-being, try to dissuade me for cogenerative reasons. But – barring the next-morning hangover from a poorly-distilled spirit – I just don’t mind the weirdness that often results. And so there’s cajoling, and sometimes a measure of begging, but eventually the spirit arises. So to speak.
At Tempier, where I acquire this particular example, the problem isn’t existence – there’s a bottle of this prominently displayed in their foyer – so much as saleability. Where’s the capsule? What’s the price? Can we sell it? Which “vintage”? And so forth. No importer’s last-second demands have caused as much frenetic trauma as my request for a bottle of this spirit, while chez Tempier.
And, so? It’s…majestic. As would, admittedly, be expected from Tempier. Gravels and sands, rocks and earthquakes, bronzed plums and ambered figs. It’s breathtakingly great. (5/12)
Delille “Terre d’Ombre” 2007 Vin de Pays du Mont Caume (Provence) – Expectations are funny things. I see “Provence” on a red wine I don’t know, I think “light,” or at least “light-ish.” And I suppose that’s not wrong here, though as a “declassified” Bandol, chock full of young-vine mourvèdre, there should also be some presence. But what this is really more about is taking a fragrant bouquet of fairly delicate flowers – fresh and alive – and slamming them against a wall in one petal-shattering heave. That wall is structural, and though it’s thin enough to see through, it’s otherwise impenetrable nonetheless. I’m not sure what this means, in the context of the appellation or even just this wine, but this is a highly bifurcated pleasure that…while, there’s some sort of lack to it. I just haven’t yet figured out what it is. (10/11)
Les Fouleurs de Saint Pons Vin de Pays du Var “Réserve du Cigalon” Rosé (Provence) – Candied berries, a bit hot, thin, and not very interesting. (11/09)
Pascal “Domaine du Gros’Noré” 2005 Bandol (Provence) – Gorgeous wine, in the first flush of youth. That flush has a meaty tinge to it, as well as vise-squeezed dark berries (skins still clinging) and a lot of herbal/peppery stuff misted about the environs, but the primary impression here is one of intensity and barely-withheld power. Owning a lot of this would be a good idea. (1/11)
Pascal “Gros’Noré” 1999 Bandol (Provence) – The odd match of maturing, meaty/liquorous “fruit” and an incisored bite of tannin that typify Bandol in its adolescent stage. It’s not young any more, but the hurry to get to it will very much depend on how much one craves animal juice. It’s forceful for a Bandol, wrapping itself in a few more layers of herbed foil than might be normal at this stage. I like it, but I’ll like it more in a decade, I suspect. (8/10)
Duffort “Château La Moutète” 2009 Côtes de Provence Rosé “Grande Réserve” (Provence) – Grows as it airs, tinting its peaches green throughout. Nice. Not really more than that, but still nice. (8/10)
Michelland “Domaine de la Réaltière” 2005 Côteaux d’Aix en Provence “cul-sec!” (Provence) – Light, appealing red fruit with space and air within, some peanutty spice, and a little wash of funk and stink. As seems appropriate, given the name. The finish is stronger and more full-throated than what precedes it. (8/10)
Château du Roquefort (a/k/a Domaine du Roquefort) 2006 Vin de Pays des Bouches du Rhône “Gueule de Loup” (Provence) – A blend of grenache, the cabernets, and merlot. At a cost of a few dollars, this would be fine: basic fruit, basic structure…the kind of wine one un-jugs and sloshes at a picnic, or in front of the kitchen TV. It’s more than that, and as a result it’s less than that. I don’t see what cabernets and merlot add to grenache, and I don’t see the reverse either. (6/10)