Saturday, December 26, 2009

WN: Domaine Terrebrune 2004 Bandol

I'm a bit surprised Jeff at Viva la Wino hasn't reviewed this one yet since K&L Wines was closing it out recently and it's from an awesome little appellation in Provence along the Mediterranean coast of France. Domaine Terrebrune 2004 Bandol is 85% Mourvedre with Cinsault and Grenache rounding out the blend, and is imported by Kermit Lynch (another reason why I'm surprised Jeff hasn't hit this up). Let me begin by saying Mourvedre is one of the greatest grape varieties. It intrinsically is a bit meaty, gamy and and earthy and ripens late, thus even in warmer southern climates it can make a complex, balanced wine on its own. Furthermore, it's one of the most age-worthy reds because of the high level of antioxidant phenolic compounds present in its skins. Finally, because it was nearly wiped out by the vine louse Phylloxera, it only was replanted in its spiritual home of Bandol to any serious degree beginning in the mid-20th century. It's an underdog and one of the few varietals that can make a balanced wine in a warm if not hot climate.

Chances are this wine was in an intermediate phase between youthful exuberance and sage old wisdom. It was a bit aromatically ungiving, but did yield that characteristic animal funk (my girlfriend said chicken coop, but it was more gamy to me) as well as roasted herbs, chocolate, smoke and burnt caramel. Definitely not a fruit bomb, though not excessively rustic, either. It was surprisingly non-rustic and polished on the palate as well, medium to full bodied and showed a classy high-quality oak presence on the mid-palate (probably because large 50-60 hecto-litre barriques are used for aging instead of the popular 225 litre Bordeaux-style barrels). There were dark fruit, coffee and herb flavors and a very pleasing, lingering finish. Both tannins and acidity were present structurally, but neither was angular and stuck out. In particular, the tannins were rounded instead of drying despite being fairly copious.

While I was expecting a wine that was tannic and rustic, what I found was a refined wine that still showed a good bit of character. This opened up in the decanter, and given its balance and structure, I'd bet it would age gracefully. Unfortunately, K&L has sold out of this already. That it showed up on sale was a bit odd in the first place since it had a high critical rating, though perhaps the less-heralded 2004 vintage detracted a bit from its potential luster for collectors.

Incidentally, I will admit to a positive bias towards Mourvedre. If I were to make a second blog, it would definitely be devoted to Mourvedre. I'd even go so far as to say a lot of the Central Coast Syrah should be replaced with Mourvedre, assuming the vines are suited to the vineyard. My girlfriend was less bullish on this wine, using terms like chicken coop and medicinal, so your mileage may vary.

Pros: Balanced, Mildly Funky, Medium-Full Bodied, Refined
Cons: Somewhat Tight Aromatically
Decant: Yes, opened up with air exposure
Price: $23 from K&L Wines
QPR: Good/Excellent (out of Poor, Mediocre, Fair, Good or Excellent with Fair denoting expectations were met for the price point)


Jeff said...

Looks like I missed that time I'll have better luck, I guess. Only had a few Bandol's; I'd like to explore the area some more. Had another Kermit Lynch wine this week though--a differnt 07 Baudry "Les Grezeaux" instead of "Les Granges," it was drinking really well.

maulmatt! said...

It's been a while, but Domaine Ott makes an exquisite Bandol. It may run about $10 or $15 more. I had one recently, one of Total Wine's private labels, that I didn't like as much. Definitely a grape I like to shop for though, whether from Bandol or from Spain.

CabFrancoPhile said...

Jeff, I saw you had the Grezeaux. I have a lone bottle of that, and I'm torn whether to drink now or later with my lone bottle of the '05 cuvee. It sounds better than the '07 Les Granges based on your notes.

Matt, thanks for the rec. I'll keep my eyes open. I want to try aging Bandols, so I'll probably watch for deals and buy when I see a good price. Ott will be on the watch list!

Jeff said...

I don't think the 07 is really going to get any better than it is right now. Definitely drinking well now--I would go for it. I don't know about the 05 though...that might be a different story.