Our last meeting with Laurent Bunan was not on the Côte d'Azur but a serendipitous encounter during security clearance at Düsseldorf airport when we were returning from a wine fair that neither party knew the other was attending. Coincidentally, we had been trawling our archives for our 50th anniversary celebrations and were in possession of a photograph of his father Paul sporting an open neck shirt and bell-bottoms that Robin Yapp had taken in the 1970s. We had a good laugh about that over a beer and caught up on each others' news before boarding our respective flights for Paris and London.
The family's celebrated Mas de la Rouvière blanc is made from pure Clairette that is vinified in stainless steel vats and bottled in the spring to conserve its youthful freshness. It has a golden straw colour, alluring wildflower and citrus scents, supple peach and apricot flavours and an elegant, dry finish. It can be enjoyed on its own as an aperitif and has a terrific affinity for seafood.
Rosé accounts for 90% of wine production in Provence but much of that is pink plonk aimed squarely at the tourist trade. In Bandol they make some of the finest rosé in France and the Bunans' is amongst the best. Made from a blend of Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Grenache, it has a lovely 'onion skin' robe, a summer berry bouquet and a wealth of cranberry and raspberry fruit on the palate.
Completing the line-up, the red Mas de la Rouvière is made from a base of Mourvèdre with lesser volumes of Grenache and Syrah. It has briary hedgerow scents and complex flavours of black fruit, game, leather and spices over a background of rugged tannins that sweeten and soften with bottle age. It will cellar well for a decade or more and makes a fine partner to grilled red meat and mushroom dishes.