90, Reviewed by Michael Rockich, AppellationsTen
The 2019 Aix-en-Provence Sabine Rosé that I recently reviewed from Bieler Pere & Fils was so impressive that I welcomed the opportunity to have a look at Bieler’s 2018 Bandol Reserve Rosé. The Bandol AOC, founded in 1941, has a reputation to generally produce the highest quality rosé and red wines in Provence, also producing white wines. In total, just over 1,500 ha of wine grapes are planted on Bandol’s sandy limestone hills and terraces. The AOC’s red grapes are Mourvèdre (about half of all), Cinsault, and Grenache. For both rosé and red wine production Mourvèdre is required to be at least 50% of the mix. Note that wines from the area now known as the Bandol AOC were much appreciated by Louis XIII and Louis XIV, French kings.
Philippe Bieler founded Chateau Routas in 1992 in Provence, France. There in the Coteaux Varois appellation the winery focused on rosé and red blends using Grenache as the primary constituent. Phillipe’s offspring, Charles and Mira, entered the business in the 1990s augmenting with creative marketing, selling, and winemaking. The Bielers initiated New York based Bieler Père et Fils the same year they sold Chateau Routas.
Today, Bieler sources his fruit from Le Castellet, a medieval village situated on a hilltop surrounded by Bandol vineyards. The vines are grown on limestone soils that offer some depth. The late ripening Mourvèdre grape likes these soils and the warm coastal climate of Bandol.
Charles seems to likes lees contact in this wine, surely for adding complexity, flavor, and in some wines, creaminess. After fermentation the wine is blended on its lees in stainless steel tanks where it remains until bottling in March. The 2018 blend is Mourvèdre 52%, Cinsault 34.5%, and Grenache 13.5%. The wine chemistry parameters are volumetric alcohol 13.5%, total acidity 6.16, PH 3.28, and residual sugar 0.2%. By the way, this wine is quite a price performer.
This smoothly textured 2018 rosé presents a pretty light salmon color with resonant copper hues and fresh acidity. Unveils a bright, complex flavor profile with a core of red cherries, strawberries, grapefruit, and mineral. Demonstrates marginally more body, substance, and color than most rosé elsewhere in Provence. This is the norm due to the greater amount of Mourvèdre in the Bandol mix, also showing a refined and definitive character.
I paired Bieler’s 2018 Bandol with a roast Christmas ham glazed by brown sugar and Dijon mustard, and sides of caramelized apples and onions with sautéed La Rouge potatoes. What a pairing! The rosé generated lifting contrast for the rich ham, while enhancing both the roast meat and both sides. A harmonious ensemble!
A sample for review.
Trinchero Family Estates (TFE) Family of Brands
All photo credits, TFE