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30 January 2012

Bandol: Château Tournier Guilhem

Guilhem, Henri and Genevieve Tournier’s compact and bijou property, lying not far from the cute hilltop village of La Cadière d’Azur a fair trek to the north of Bandol town, has two almost unique characteristics about it in context of the wider Bandol appellation. At six hectares (15 acres), it’s one of the smallest vineyards in an area probably better known for quite large estates (think Ch. Pibarnon at 50 ha or Dom. Tempier at 30, for instance); and it’s now certified organic (from 2011). “We were one of the first to convert to organics,” Genevieve confirmed in fact as I tasted at their stand at ‘Millésime Bio’ organic wine show in Montpellier last week. There was only one other organic estate from Bandol at the show - the ultra ‘natural’ and quirky Château Sainte-Anne (see post directly below) - which got me thinking why aren’t there more in this very French Mediterranean wine region? Not a criticism - people have their reasons and many non-organic growers (or not officially certified but more or less are anyway) are sensible about what they use, how much and why (as I’ve said before, I’ve never aimed to make this blog exclusively organic; it just so happens that an increasing amount of the best ones are, or in the process of) - but a question worth asking.

I digress - back to the Tournier’s wines, which were definitely worth unearthing after deciding it seemed like a good idea to see how many organic Bandol producers were exhibiting! I’ve also just re-published a towards-huge wad of exciting material on Bandol and its kingpin variety, Mourvèdre, originally gathered and scribbled from 2003 to 2006 (I lived in nearby Marseille for two of those years, by the way): click here and here for much more info then (goes to two pages in my “wine words” archive: the former featuring 150+ wines and a few winery touring pieces / profiles, the latter a more academic article called ‘Understanding Mourvèdre’ written for Wine Business, USA).

2011 Bandol rosé (majority Mourvèdre + Cinsault and Grenache, tank sample) - attractive juicy crisp rosé in that more elegant and mineral style, although has a bit of weight as well, showing aromatic citrus fruit with floral rose petal edges, nice structured bite and almost salty tangy finish.
2010 Bandol rosé - hints of yeast-lees, fuller rounder and oilier texture with developing red fruit flavours and still has a fresher side too; good although the 2011 will be better. €15 (that's trendy Bandol for you...)
2008 Bandol rouge (85% Mourvèdre) - light touches of coconut oak aromas and grainy texture, concentrated dark vs savoury fruit with tight grippy mouth-feel, subtle and still a little closed up vs developing meaty edges. Very good, promising too. €18
2009 Bandol rouge - meatier and more powerful with lovely rich black cherry with spicy savoury dark olive notes, firmer bigger palate with weighty finish vs attractively rounded tannins. A slightly more in-your-face vintage maybe but it’s still good stuff.

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