Here’s the report I promised you on the tasting held earlier this week at the Nottingham Wine Circle. Our friend Mike Lane was actually on holiday recently near Narbonne, which (if you know your geography) is a long way from Bandol. Nevertheless, he and a friend made the 450+ mile round trip in a day, purely to visit Domaines Ott and taste through the range of wines from the three different estates which bear the Ott name. As far as I am concerned, it was well worth it. We tasted 14 different wines, including no less than 6 rosés……
Some of the wines in the line-up (sorry for the poor quality - I only had my mobile phone to hand)
Les Domaniers 2008 Côtes de Provence
10 % Rolle, 90% Semillon. Citrus fruits, peaches and minerals on the nose. Apples and spring flowers, too. Quite rich, but zingy with it. If I had a criticism, it is a little hollow in the middle, but a nice wine to start with, nevertheless. €9.95.
Clos Mireille 2007 Côtes de Provence
30% Rolle, 70% Semillon.Very perfumed on the nose, with hints of talc and flowers. Somebody mentioned lavender, and we all agreed - this is Provence, after all, so for the scents of the countryside to come through in the wine shouldn't come as a surprise. I even detected hints of olive oil on the nose. The palate was again fairly rich, with citrus fruits and hints of apples and herbs. Delicate and elegant and really rather nice. I didn't note the price, but this retails for about £20 in the UK.
Les Domaniers 2008 Côtes de Provence60% Grenache, 40% Cinsault. A nose of vanilla and crème brûlée, with subtle hints of herbs and red fruits. A soft entry on the palate, with lovely sweet red fruits and nice acidity. Lovely rosé. €9.95.
Clos Mireille Cœur de Grain 2008 Côtes de Provence
A blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. This has more of everything, being richer, more powerful and more flavoursome. Whether that makes it a more enjoyable wine to drink is up for discussion. The previous wine was just so enjoyable to drink now, although maybe in a more immediate and less structured way. This one probably needs another year or two in bottle to show its true promise. €22.05.
Château Romassan Cuvée Marine 2008 Bandol
10% Grenache, 75% Cinsault, 15% Mourvedre, aged in oak for 2 months. Ultra-pale onion skin colour. More muted on the nose than the previous wine, or perhaps just more subtle - but definitely more complex. Indeed, it is almost like a white Burgundy in structure, with flavours of mineral, peach and citrus. Long and complex and lovely. €21.33.
Château Romassan Cœur de Grain 2008 Bandol
A blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvedre, although the percentages aren't specified. Ultra-pale colour again. A nose of herbs and spices (Lincolnshire sausages, curiously enough) and also quite biscuity, almost reminiscent of an aged Champagne. The palate is more in the way of red fruits, like cherries and redcurrants. Also quite spicy and herby. Long and warming and lovely. €22.05.
Château Romassan Cœur de Grain 2006 Bandol
Same blend. Another wine with a nose of vanilla custard. A few of detected a hint of TCA, so it wasn't really possible to make a judgment on this one. It also seemed a touch oxidative. That said, it was hanging on quite well, albeit in an aged sort of way - and I would expect a fine Bandol rosé to age better than this.
Château Romassan Cuvée Marcel Ott 2007 Bandol
Mourvedre and Cinsault, aged 8 months in oak. This again smells (and tastes) almost like a white Burgundy. A touch of very classy, very subtle oak-ageing. This really is a very fine wine, and if I were tasting it (completely) blind, I would be convinced it was a particularly fine white Burg.
Les Domaniers 2007 Côtes de Provence
58% Syrah, 20% Cinsault, 10% Grenache and 12% Mourvedre. Initially quite modern, slightly jammy, almost southern hemisphere. Then you get hints of VA and pepper and tarry oak. The palate is beautifully balanced, fruity ,rich but light on its feet. The more you smell and taste it, the more it seems like a northern Rhone wine. Not a serious wine, but a complete joy to drink. Not sure about the price.
Château Romassan 2005 Bandol
90% Mourvedre and 10% other grapes (not sure which).Soft, almost citrussy fruit. It smells like a Bandol, but is so soft and easy to drink. The colour is only light-to-medium, suggesting a fairly low extraction and (I would guess) complete de-stemming of the grapes. It is subtley oaked, with red and black fruits and notes of cedar. Not typical Bandol, and not built for ageing, but a delight to drink right now. €22.65.
Château Romassan 2004 Bandol
This is fuller and richer and more heavily extracted, with more in the way of oak/cedar..... and perhaps even a touch corked. Seems like there's a good wine in there, but difficult to assess. €22.65.
Château De Selle Côtes de Provence 2003
90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% other grapes. Blackcurrants and cedar, citrus fruit and VA. This is amazingly light and balanced for a 2003. Quite tarry (as are many 2003's), with notes of beef gravy and roses, reminiscent of Barolo. It is also quite similar to my Chateau d'Estoublon Jeune Vignes 2003, which suggests that Cabernet Sauvignon was well-suited to the conditions of the 2003 vintage. I liked this very much. €22.
Château Romassan Longue Garde 2001 Bandol
50% Mourvedre, 20% Grenache, 20% Cinsault, 10% Syrah. Lots of volatile acidity, beetroot, red cabbage, even a bit oxidised. Absolutely full of faults (and perhaps an iffy bottle) but it had plenty of secondary/tertiary flavours and I really liked it, as did some other members of the group. Not cheap, though, at €29.
Château De Selle Longue Garde 2000 Côtes de Provence
90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% other grapes. A riot of violets and smoked sausages, with bags of fruit aromas and flavours. 90% Cab? For all the world, I’m in the northern Rhone with this one. Lovely, soft fruit flavours and relatively low tannins, but it has real underlying structure, with excellent acidity. A glorious wine, which is perfect to drink now.
We finished off with a more traditional, aged Bandol, kindly provided by David Selby, our ever-generous group Secretary.
Domaine Tempier La Tourtine 1995 Bandol
Again, this is very northern Rhone in style, which is actually what I have come to expect from aged Tempier wines. Salty, meaty, a touch bretty perhaps, but also very floral, with distinct notes of violets and lilies – yet it is mostly Mourvedre. Rich but balanced, even elegant, with superb underlying acidity. It isn’t quite peaking yet, but is not far off. Long, herby, spicy and complex. A real cracker.
One or two at the tasting were critical of the prices of the Ott wines. Indeed, they are far from cheap, but one must remember that these are the wines of choice of the hordes of rich and famous people who spend their spare time (and lots of money) in the fancy bars and restaurants of the Côte d’Azure. And the rosés are, without doubt, some of the best in the world – if not the best. And whilst the reds seem relatively simple in comparison, they are clearly made in a lighter, easier-drinking style than typical Bandol and Côtes de Provence wines. I guess that when the rosé aficionados fancy a change to something a little darker and fuller, true Bandol (especially at a relatively young age) would be a bit too much. Therefore, these lighter reds hit the spot perfectly.
All-in-all, this was a superb tasting. Although (for a variety of reasons) it was less well-attended than most, it was still a bargain. The prices shown are the prices Mike paid for the wines at Domaines Ott, and were, he says, probably lower than the normal everyday cellar door prices. The cost to the attendees was £18 per person, which for wines of such quality was a bit of a bargain.