1994 Domaine Tempier Bandol “Cabassaou”

It is always a real treat to open an older Bandol from Domaine Tempier.  Tempier Bandol wines are really like no other.

I will always remember something I once read, which in my mind best describes Domaine Tempier & its wines– “if any wine can be said to have soul, it’s Tempier.”

In actuality, it has taken me a long time to understand & appreciate  these wild & rustic Mourvedre based red wines from Provence, France.

Patriarch Lucien Peyraud lobbied hard & for many years towards the “resurrection” of the Bandol appellation, which was finally granted AOC status in 1941.  He also championed the Mourvedre grape variety as the main foundation in producing true Bandol.

“…..the celebrity of Domaine Tempier also lies deep in the soils of Bandol. Variations of clay and limestone soils between the vineyards produce wines that are undeniably world class.”

Their two most famous single vineyard bottlings are La Migoua & La Tourtine.  Recently I found a piece which Kermit Lynch wrote back in the early 80’s, which  will hopefully shed some light on their differences, just as it did for me.

La Migoua is a wild site with vines planted irregularly here & there upon rugged mountainous terrain.  The air is scented with pine, wildflower, rosemary, thyme & anise.  Amidst the rows of vines you still see cherry, olive & apricot trees, struggling leftovers from when the ancients covered the mountainside with orchards.  This aromatic feast gives the cuvee la Migoua its special character“.

A vineyard  must have been in Mother Nature’s mind when she designed this steep amphitheater-shaped hillside (La Tourtine) with its perfect south facing exposure to the path of the sun.  No one knows when man thought to tame it by unearthing the largest stones & arranging them into a series of walls up the hillside that would hold enough soil in place to permit cultivation.  Nowadays terraces are repaired, but the task of constructing new ones, stone by stone, is rarely undertaken, even at Cote Rotie.  La Tourtine is also special because here one finds some of the oldest Mourvedre vines at Bandol“.

On this night we tasted the 1994 “Cabassaou”.  I believe Cabassaou was first designated separately with the 1987 vintage & “is produced from “a small portion of their La Tourtine vineyard, which is their oldest vines

I was somewhat taken back by how “dumb” & tired the wine seemed in the nose.  However, with the first taste the wine just exploded on the palate.  WOW!…..with a profound, youthful vigor packed with all kinds of flavors, nuances & character which is solely that from Tempier–dry aged meat, musk, bay leaf, sandalwood, exotic spices & sun baked earth & more seemingly with each swirl.  It reminded us why we looked so forward to trying this wine in the first place…..& it was certainly as inspiring as we had hoped it would be.  With more & more air time, the nose started to open up & unfold its treasures, which was a reminder to us how wines can have quite the mood swings during its evolution in the bottle.  This particular bottle just needed to be vigorously splashed around a bit.

Yes….it was truly memorable.

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