Friday, January 22, 2010

Bandol: A Note for Richard

Richard, good friend, former colleague and coffee-roaster supreme purchased some bottles of an older Bandol at a close-out sale, opened one of the bottles with friends and evidently, it caused some discussion. He gave me a bottle to see what I thought.

Well, last week I finally got around to opening the wine. It was late when Susan, Travis and I finally started thinking about supper. We'd been eying the bacon, ham, eggs and long spaghetti they'd bought at Lovera's in Krebs, Oklahoma and Spaghetti Carbonara was on the collective brain. I used young Mr. Barsotti's recipe fron Nonna which called for sauteing  onion and then the cooked spaghetti in the bacon grease before adding the eggs and cheese and finishing the dish. (OK, he called for pancetta, but we had all this smoky bacon and country ham thanks to the Ham-Santa...) It worked! The bacon grease made for a rich, smoky carbonara that definitely called for a glass of red wine. And yes, the Bandol was an inspired selection!

For those not in the know, Bandol is a small appellation perched on sundrenched cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean just kilometers east of Marseille. The climate is moderated by the proximity to the sea. The primary grape is the smoky brambly Mourvedre,  blended with Grenache and Cinsault.  The soils are rocky and yields are naturally low, producing wines with good concentration of flavor and structure. The long sunny growing season combined with the moderate climate allows the Mourvedre to develop its characteristic flavors of black fruits, licorice, leather and smoke.

The bottle of the evening was the 2000 vintage from Domaine de l'Olivette. The wine threw massive sediment and would have benefited from standing for a day or two to let the wine settle. But we just had to make due with a cloudy, silty wine. Opening the bottle revealed musty aromas of leather, smoke and wood which yielded to smoky black fruits as the wine sat in the glass.

The wine followed the same pattern on the palate, opening up to musty dried black fruits and adding notes of oily black olives as it sat it the glass. It was very complex and seemed to change constantly through the meal. While the wine was dark, complex and full-bodied, there was a lightness to the wine and it never overpowered the Carbonara. The cheese and smokiness of the ham and bacon kept the flavors working together.

Of course the sediment kept getting more and more evident as we crept closer to the bottom of the bottle. A week later, the empty bottle is sitting on my desk with a 2 inch diameter stain in the shoulder of the bottle and trail of detritus leading to the bottom.

Altogether a very pleasant evening.

1 comment:

  1. THE BACK STORY: I brought this wine to David because I was having a hard time figuring it out. I am always suspicious of close-out wines, but I had never tasted a Bandol, so I had to try it, even though a colleague far more knowledgeable about wine than I told me "there is not much pleasure to be had in that botttle." It was tough and leathery, with no obvious fruit -- and I loved it! In fact, I immediately bought every bottle the store had in stock. I brought one to David in hopes that he could help me figure out what I was tasting, and why I enjoyed it so much. It was a good call. In fact, I'm looking forward to enjoying the next bottle with some carbonara!