Back in 1992, a young Mr Yapp toiled (or more probably loitered) on the terraces of Bandol in the services of the benevolent Bunan family at their stunning Mas de la Rouvière estate below the medieval hill town of La Cadière d'Azur. At that time Bandol was renowned for its rich, dark, age-worthy red wines, made chiefly from the Mourvèdre grape, but there has been a seismic shift in emphasis in the ensuing quarter of a century. Today, red wine accounts for just 22% of Bandol's production with rosé representing a whopping 73% of output and white wine just 5%.
The extraordinary success of the region's rosé is partially due to improved wine-making techniques and equipment resulting in much better quality but also due to demand from the restaurant terraces of the Cote d'Azur as well as increasingly quality conscious export-markets. The Bunans have certainly done their bit to put the appellation on the map by producing excellent wines and introducing them to an international audience – not least a disaffected youth from Wiltshire! Their 'Mas de la Rouvière' rosé is made from a blend of Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Grenache and has a limpid salmon pink robe, inviting summer berry aromas and a persistent palate of redcurrants and raspberries. By popular demand we are now shipping it in magnums. The Bandol blanc, from pure Clairette, has delicate scents of wild herbs and apricots and a smoothly textured, unoaked, citrus-edged palate with a clean, dry finish. Its raison d' être is to accompany seafood: a filet de bar roti au purée de basilic would fit the bill nicely. Completing the line-up is the Bunans' chest-thumping red Bandol. Made from a base of Mourvèdre finessed with Syrah and Cinsault, it has a briary bouquet and a concentrated berry palate with notes of tapenade and game supported by rugged but ripe tannins. It makes a fine partner to grilled red meat and mushroom dishes and will cellar well for 5-10 years.