2001 Château Vannières, Bandol Rouge, Provence, France.
I got introduced to Château Vannières almost a decade ago and have loved the White, Rosé and Red Bandol bottlings here ever since and I was thrilled to try this 23 year old 2001 vintage (library wine) that importer Laurent Michit, at H. Mercer Imports, brought over direct from their cellars. This is a fantastic wine, old school and still firm, while allowing the best of its maturity to shine though with a rich, pure and powerful core of fruit on the full bodied and tannic palate, it shows off dark berry, black plum, dusty cherry and currant, along with subtle cedary wood, crushed wild flowers, dried sage, anise, baked earth, a light meaty/savory character and the beginnings of tertiary elements coming through in a beautifully complete and complex Mourvèdre based Bandol. The owners, Eric and son Eric-Charles Boisseaux, Burgundians by heritage, have made this property a go to label and have perfectly balanced traditional methods and modern technology to producer outstanding wine, all from holistically and sustainable vines that are set on the regions classic limestone and clay soils and almost a stones throw from the blue Mediterranean Sea. There’s not many more picturesque wine regions in the world, with beautiful Provence hills, pine forests, vast vistas of the sea, olive groves and of course these vineyards, which are capable of some exceptionally age worthy wines, as seen here, and with the famous estates like Domaine Tempier, Gros Nore and Pradeaux.

The Château Vannières, which is just a few miles from the Mediterranean, is an excellent and historic estate that was first established back in 1547, it is now highly focused on its Mourvèdre, Bandol Rouge, the Provençal rival of Barolo, Rioja and or Grand Vin Bordeaux, which pays off the patient wine enthusiasts with great rewards. Château Vannières Bandol Rouge saw careful selected clusters, 100% de-stemmed berries, from low yielding vines, a long vinification regime with 35-days of punch-downs, after which the must is pressed to barrel. The Bandol, 95% Mourvèdre and 5% Grenache saw 24 months of maturation in French oak featuring a combination of neutral, well seasoned, large foudres and some small barrels. With this wine seeing two decades in bottle in the winery’s cool cellar, which has softened the tannins and allowed layers of autumn leaves, leather, lavender oil and spicy tobacco to evolve nicely in the profile, but still deliciously fruit dense and pleasing to all of the senses. The current releases are exceptional values for the quality, with the Rouge always a standout, but the Bandol Blanc, made from Clairette Blanche and Bourboulenc, is a beauty, and the Boisseaux’s Bandol Rosé, which leans heavily on the Mourvèdre, also has a good dose of Grenache and Cinsault, makes for a stylish and mineral fresh version. All of these Château Vannières are excellent food wines, in fact they really deserve a menu based around each of their distinctive and individual qualities, with this 2001 Château Vannières Bandol Rouge cellar selection in particular going fabulously well with lamb, cassoulet and wild mushroom dishes.
($97 ESt.) 95 Points, grapelive

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