Owner Michel Bronzo (centre), with his son Nicolas (left) and estate manager Stéphane Bourret
Despite its sizeable geographical sprawl, the vineyard area of Bandol is actually shrinking, largely due to the demands of property developers wanting a slice of Provencal countryside on which to build new homes.
Originally a Spanish grape, the sun-loving Mourvèdre here holds sway. Ripened under Mediterranean skies, it can produce rich and expressive red wines from this stunning landscape where rocky outcrops, cypress and stunted pine trees speak of the parched landscape that this variety prefers to call home.
Domaine Tempier quite rightly flies an international flag for this southern appellation. Yet there are numerous domaines producing exceptionally fine wine here. And one of them appears below.
La Bastide Blanche was bought by Michel and Louis Bronzo in the early 1970s. The new owners were determined to make wines that were the equal of the most famous labels of the southern Rhône.
They now make - under the auspices of estate manager Stephane Bourret -some 55,000 bottles each vintage from their vineyard holdings of 28 hectares.
Working biodynamically from very low yields, the focus here is very much on the Mourvèdre grape, from which they produce extremely long-lived red wines that, due to their levels of ripeness (and especially when given time in a decanter), can nevertheless be enjoyed in their youth, too.
Considering the quality, the wines offer among the most fabulous values to be found anywhere.
2016 Bandol Rouge, La Bastide Blanche
£186 in bond a dozen Drink 2020-2030
N.B. This is 78% Mourvèdre, 16% Grenache, 4% Cinsault and 2% Syrah.
This sits darkly in the glass. Aromas are subtle, rich, dark and a touch broad. Yet there is fine snap and bounce to the black plum fruit that has a hint of something roasted and animal to it. It goes in the mouth as a plush attack of dark fruit: a fluid wave from which emerges piquant tannin. This is a dense wine showing incisive structure and vivid minerality to a very long, dry mineral finish. Superb.
“With its creamy, lush texture, it seems almost too easy to drink for a wine that's meant to age, but this offers plenty of depth and concentration, with blackberry fruit and soft dustiness on the long finish.” Joe Czerwinski