The production area is small, because of the
rigid rules governing its determination.
The production area is bounded by a wide ring of hills, the exposure is southerly,
and open to the south-west winds, there by enjoying maximum sunshine and
Starting from the Golfe des Lecques, rising to the Plateau du Camp and then
curving towards Le Beausset, the boundary of the production area follows
the top of the hills and runs back to the sea to the east of Sanary. The
Communes included in this area are Bandol, Sanary, La Cadière d’Azur,
Le Castellet and parts of Le Beausset. Saint Cyr/Mer, Ollioules and Evenos.
Almost the whole of this area consists of clay-limestone soil. Only part
of it lies on the Triassic slopes of Le Canadeau and le Télégraphe,
and on calcareous rock rubble in the region of Sanary, Bandol and Saint Cyr/Mer.
Soils, which were formed by the disintegration of the parent rock, play by
far the most important role in providing the characteristics of Bandol wines.
The land is arid, and the yield is low. But it is particularly rich in silicious
elements, a feature of many soils that produce “Appellation Contrôlée” wines.
The climate in the Bandol area is particularly suited
to cultivating wines.
Surrounded by a vast amphitheatre of mountains and enclosed by hills rising
to a height of 1.300 Feet, the vineyards slope down to the sea, facing south.
They receive more sunshine than any other locality on the French Riviera
(more than 3.000 hours a year) and also benefit from the favorable influence
Mistral. The winds from the east and the south-east ensure adequate rainfall
(annual average 650mm during autumn and winter).
During the sunny summer season, sea breezes temper the hot days. Between
August and October the sky is remarkably clear, and the grapes reach maturity
year without any difficulty. So far as Bandol wines are concerned, it can
safely be said that there are no “bad years”.
whole of this area consists of clay-limestone soil.
The land is arid and the yield is low.
But it is particularly rich in silicious elements, a feature of soils
Birdseye on the Bandol Vineyard
These vineyards are seen at their best from
the heights that overlook them. From the hilltops covered with forests of
oak and pine trees the vines are
planted in terraces sloping down from the hillsides. They form low, narrow
rectangles of white earth, kept in place by dry stone walls. The origin
and purpose of these walls are evident: in order to cultivate the soil, the
blocks or rock had to be removed and subsequently, to hold the arable soil
in place and protect it from erosion, the vine cultivators used the rocks
to build walls, using stones but no mortar.
Olive-trees may be seen here and there; flowers are grown in some places
- notably narcissi and everlasting flowers.
Amid the vines stand red-roofed “bastides” (provencal manor house)
all facing south. In the course of generations, these buildings have been enlarged;
the low buildings, facing north, are the cellars, half-buried in the ground
- a reminder of the fact that wine production has flourished for many centuries
in the Bandol region.
Why Bandol has become a fashionable wine?
surprising number of connoisseurs (among them several recent presidents of
the French Republic, all of them renowned gourmets) discovered this small
vineyard of some 2.000 acres a while ago and had already singled it out
from all those which surround it. They obviously made no mistake for the fashion
they set is now rapidly taking all France by storm. How can we account
this fashion and where does it come from?
In an area no bigger than a pocket handkerchief, and which can be crossed
over in ten minutes, we find a combination of all the necessary conditions
a great wine: a limited production of only 25.000 hectoliters, a small number
of wine growers, a special “cépage” (grape variety) - “Mourvèdre” -
which only gives a low yield, therefore concentrated wines.
It is now a completely accepted fact that Bandol wine, classified as “A.O.C.” for
the past 42 years is in its own unique way, equal to the greatest of wines.
The specialists were quite right.
A few flattering comments
- Jean Luc POUTEAU winner of
the best sommelier in the world” contest
in 1983 and Nicolas de RABAUDY published a survey of their wine
tasting in a book called “SAVOIR BOIRE” (How to drink wine)
Red Bandol is the Lafitte Rotschild of Côtes de Provence said Jean Louis
Othier, the head Chef and owner of the Oasis Restaurant in La Napoule “.
(Savoir Boire. Edition J.C. Lattés Paris)
- Le Guide GAULT and MILLAU, “bible” and
bedside book of all French gourmets gives high praise to Bandol wine:
It would be unforgivable and a serious mistake to confuse Bandol wines with
other wines of Provence the soil of this small area can Indeed produce great
wines, equal in their uniqueness to more famous appellations such as... certain
great Burgundy or Bordeaux wines”.
(Gault et Millau Special Vin Septembre 1980)
Many other famous gourmets
have discovered and sung the praises of these distinctive and unique
wines - but we cannot quote them all.
It is a rare wine, one for wine "Amateurs"
Production only reached 25.000 hectoliters
(3 millions 1/ 2 bottles) in 1983... that is a tiny amount of the total French
C. production that
easily locally or as a curiosity elsewhere. The low yield
from “Mourvèdre” makes
Bandol wine a rarity.
It is a wine for wine lovers to collect. For every great
appellation there is a corresponding great “cépage” and all collectors and
wine lovers should have a cellar where the wines produced from the world’s
most famous “cépages” are tenderly collected together. “Mourvèdre” only
exists in the Bandol area.
One of God's blasseings at an unbeatable
Those who can come to visit the Bandol area
will be able to idle away the time exploring twisty little narrow roads,
up the hillsides
These roads will lead them from “Domaines” to “Châteaux” (wine
producing estates), there are only twenty of them and they are all just next
door to one another. This “appellation’ is just making its way
out into the world so that, for the time being, It is still within the Bandol
area that the best “Blessing-Price” ratio can be found. Indeed
for a very reasonable price you can take back home great vintage wines as well
as very distinctive and original “rosé’ and
The good body of these well balanced wines makes it possible
to transport and ship them easily. As early as 1866 JULIEN
of Vineyards” that:
Bandol wines have a forthright taste, keep for a long time and acquire quality
as they age and when they travel”.
|A unique sunshine
|A rocky vineyard here in Pibarnon
|Protected by pine trees
|Mourvedre, king of the Bandol