In the summer of 1992, a certain youthful J. Yapp toiled (or at least loitered) amongst the vines at the Bunan family's stunning 'Mas de la Rouvière' estate to work through a harvest and ameliorate his fractured schoolboy French. At that point in time, Bandol was celebrated as an enclave of red wine production with vin rouge accounting for more than 70% of the appéllation's output. Over the ensuing 29 years, there has been seismic change, as today rosé represents over 70% of production with demand for red being much reduced and white remaining a relative rarity. This isn't all bad news for winemakers, as rosé is both cheaper to produce and better for cashflow as it doesn't require barrel ageing. That said, red Bandol remains one of France's great vinous treasures and should not be overlooked at the expense of Yacht Rock and instant gratification.
Happily, the Bunan family are still making all three colours of Bandol in respectable commercial volumes and Mas de la Rouvière remains at the apex of the qualitative hierarchy. Their Bandol blanc is made from pure Clairette and has alluring wildflower and citrus scents and a sensuous palate of yellow stone fruit with an elegant dry finish. It has a marvellous affinity with seafood and is hugely popular in the bistros and brasseries along the length of the Côte d'Azur. The coral pink rosé is made from a blend of Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Grenache Noir and a has a bright cranberry and raspberry bouquet and a wealth of red fruit flavours offset by fresh acidity. Completing the range is a redoubtable red made from a base of Mourvèdre with lesser volumes of Syrah and Grenache Noir. It is aged for a minimum of 18 months in oak barrels before bottling and is a rich, darkly-fruited wine redolent of wild Provençal herbs and berries that should be decanted in youth and has enough tannic grip to cellar well for 10-15+ years.