Chateau Jean-Pierre Gaussen
2002 Bandol Rouge
Mourvèdre • Appellation Bandol Controlee
France: Provence & Corsica
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Mission Codename: Vin de Garde, if you can wait…
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Visit Provence and return with an exceptional wine representative of the region.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Chateau Jean-Pierre Gaussen
Wine Subject: 2002 Bandol Rouge
Winemaker: Jean-Pierre Gaussen
Head down to the south of France and visit Provence in the Var Department and you’re not only treated to amazing scenery, sites and food, but perhaps some of the best, if not most unrepresented, wines in all of France.
The Bandol AOC is centered in the small fishing village of Bandol is perhaps the most recognized wine of the region and comes in three varieties: white, rose and red. Today’s selection is a rouge. The region’s warm climate, soil and aspect make it ideal for the late ripening Mourvedre which by AOC regulation must make up at least 50% of the blend with Grenache, Syrah and Carignan making up the rest. This superb example is 70% Mourvedre and 30% Grenache. These wines cellar well, hence vin de garde and today’s selection is drinking very well now but has yet to reach its peak.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark purple with a clear but dark core. Along the edges the color lightens from garnet to orange to pink with clusters of long thin legs that inch down the side of the glass when swirled.
Smell – Medium bold aromatics lead off with spicy black fruit, ripe wild blackberries, plum and a touch of cinnamon with hints of earthy Provencal herbs, floral violets and a touch of leather.
Feel – This wine is rich, dry, full-bodied and warm on the palate with medium, but fine tannins and a hint of spiciness.
Taste – New world flavors of blackberry and cassis layered of old world flavors of spice including cinnamon, vanilla and hints of oak and leather.
Finish – This wine finishes long and smooth with lingering flavors and feel of its fruit, earthy qualities and spice.
Conclusion – This Bandol Rouge shows tremendous balance between the new and old world styles. Its dominant grape of Mourvedre is very well represented. If you haven’t yet explored the wines from Provence, today’s selection is an excellent example from a boutique producer that is hands on from harvest to bottling.
The plan was to relax for a few days and enjoy the sites, beaches and great food of Provence and the sites French Riviera. I had reserved a suite at the Monte Carlo and had planned on just playing for the weekend. Agent Blush was to arrive in a few days. After a day at the beach, I cleaned up for dinner and headed down to the casino for a few hands of baccarat chemin de fer.
I sat at the tableau, made my initial stakes and was dealt my cards. Luck was one my side, or so I though, just as I was turning my cards, just as I was about to say “Neuf”, Agent Terroir came running up and said we needed to go.
“Peut-il attendre?”, I said…, and almost immediately, he responded “Non”.
So me in my Tuxedo and Agent Terroir in jeans and a t-shirt headed out. The valet almost laughed as we climbed into his junk (and that’s a nice way of putting it) Citroen and headed out. Moving west-bound we passed so many of the famous villages and once we arrived in town of Bandol we headed up the coastal hills to a small vineyard overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
Puling over to the side of the road, Terroir jumped a wooden fence and started into a vineyard. We were quickly greeted by a man, that epitomized the term “Dirt Farmer”. Missing teeth, stained cuticles, overalls – the whole deal.
Jean-Pierre Gaussen started ranting about “What’s organic? What’s biodynamic?… I don’t know what rules are, I just make wine the way we’ve always done it.”
This man was passionate about not using pesticides and harvesting by hand. We also oversees each step in the vilification process. This guy was truly old School, and despite the mud on my shoes and dust on my tuxedo, that’s just the way I like it.
That day, I had the chance to taste Jean-Pierre’s wines, all of which are vin de garde and through a bit of luck, we are able to bring you a small allocation of his 2002 Bandol Rouge today.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the region surrounding Bandol can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
Awards & Accolades:
The bare facts don’t really tell the Gaussen story. He is a really small boutique producer—there’s just him and his daughter. They have an unusual cave that is a projection out of a large rock outcropping. The massive rock maintains a constant temperature. Gaussen has constructed an unusual track above the floor, near the ceiling, on which the wines are fermented. In this way, everything is by gravity feed and he doesn’t have to use pumps, which sometime over-oxygenate the wine. His vines are in the very best part of Bandol, and to my taste his Mourvedre is the best of the region. If you taste it side-by-side with the Templar wine that is so well known from the region you will see how vastly superior his wine is. This is truly a “boutique” wine of unusual quality. Mervyn Hecht, Wine Critic & Author
A vineyard vista in the Bandol AOC
About This Wine:
Bandol is often known for its rosé wines, however, the reds of this appellation are not lacking interest, especially when they are mostly made from the mourvèdre grape. This black grape is long to mature. The Bandol wines, which are sold after ageing in large barrels for 18 months can be both elegant and strong.
Respecting traditions, Jean Pierre Gaussen is not looking to produce high volumes. His reds have great longevity. They are made with a high percentage of mourvèdre and are among the most concentrated and representative of the Bandol appellation. His underground cellar, which was built in the rock, is equipped with the modern appliances that allow perfect making of the three colors of wines he produces. Temperatures are constant all year long allowing ideal conditions for the wines to age well.
About The Winery:
Created in the 60s by Jean Pierre Gaussen and his wife, Julia. At the beginning, the vineyards covered only 2.5 acres. After a lot of hard work and perseverance, it is now a 30 acre property, known as one of the best among the Bandol Appellation; numerous medals and awards are there to prove it.
The vineyard is located in the heart of the Bandol appellation, between Le Plan du Castellet and La Cadière d’Azur.
Vineyard cultivation: Harvest is done by hand. Goblet-pruning of the vines. De-budding & grapes removal when needed.
Yields: 14 hectoliters per acre.
Soil: limestone & clay.
Wine making: Destalking. 15 days in vats for the vintage 2002 and 12 days for the vintage 2004.
Grape varieties: 70% Mourvèdre and 30% Grenache for vintage 2002. 98% Mourvèdre for vintage 2004.
Aging of wine: In Oak barrels for 20 months.
Type of wine: Dry & fruity.
Serving: This wine is round and fruity. 2002 vintage is perfect to be drunk now.