Wine grapes have been grown in Bandol since the 6th century B.C. Its location by the sea worked to growers’ advantage as maritime trade developed. In 1870, the region reached its peak acreage but was destroyed by phylloxera. This prompted growers to choose better-suited grape varieties for the climate, which is when Mourvèdre was named the “King Grape” of Bandol. Various wine growers including Countess Portalis, Messrs de Pissy, Peyraud, and Roethlisberger all played an active role in establishing the Bandol AOC. The status was achieved in 1941.
Bandol wines rose in popularity during the 1960s when Paris sommelier Georges Delille purchased a vineyard in Ollioules. In 1963, it was named Domaine de Terrebrune. George’s son, Reynald, joined the team in 1980. They produce 10,000 cases of red, rosé, and white wines on their 30-hectare estate.
Today, Bandol is celebrated for its still red, rosé, and white wines.
Due to its geographical location by the Mediterranean Sea as well as the Sainte Baume mountain and the Mont Caume, Bandol wine grape varieties take on rich aromas and characteristics. The soils in Bandol are limestone, sandy marl, and sandstone. Interestingly, manual harvest is mandatory in this appellation which means grapes are carefully selected for winemaking.
The majority of red grape plantings in Bandol are Mourvèdre, followed by Grenache. Syrah, Cinsault, and Carignan are also planted in smaller quantities as additional blending grapes. Most red Bandol wines are aged in oak which builds on the beauty and complexity of the naturally occurring aromas in the grapes. Aromas of black and red fruit, lavender, violet, cured meats, forest floor, tobacco, leather, and coffee can all be found in red Bandol wines.
The majority of white grape plantings in Bandol are Clairette, followed by Rolle / Vermentino, Sauvignon Blanc, Bourboulenc, Marsanne, Ugni Blanc, and Sémillon. White Bandol wines tend to take on aromas of apple, pear, tropical fruit, and white flowers.
Cinsault, Grenache, and Mourvèdre are the primary grapes used in rosé Bandol wines. Bourboulenc, Carignan, Clairette, Syrah, and Ugni Blanc may also be included in the blend. Aromas of red berries and citrus are found in Bandol rosés.
Grape Varieties and Blends
The primary grape varieties for red Bandol wines are Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Cinsault. Red Bandol wines must be made up of 50 to 95% Mourvèdre grapes. Secondary grape varieties include Carignan and Syrah, which may not exceed 10% of the blend.
White Bandol wines are made up primarily of Clairette, Bourboulenc, and Ugni Blanc. Bandol wines must be made up of 50 to 95% Clairette grapes. Secondary varieties are Marsanne, Sauvignon Blanc, Rolle / Vermentino, and Sémillon. Secondary grape varieties may jointly make up 20% of the wine but can never exceed 10% individually.
The primary grape varieties for rosé Bandol wines are Mourvèdre, Cinsault, and Grenache. Mourvèdre must make up 20 to 95% of the wine. Secondary grape varieties include Bourboulenc, Carignan, Clairette, Syrah, and Ugni Blanc. Similar to the rules for White Bandol wines, secondary grapes may only make up a maximum of 20% of the blend jointly, or 10% individually.
Buy Bandol AOC Wine from Hourlier Wines
We at Pierre Hourlier Wines are proud to partner with Domaine de La Garenne. Their first Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Cinsault vines were planted on their 22 hectares of land when Bandol gained its appellation status. Since their first vinification in 1965, they have been producing exceptional wines. For the last five years, the estate has been run by Béatrix de Balincourt who took over from her father. They are a majority producer of rosé wine and offer excellent red and white wines as well. We are delighted to showcase their remarkable wines. Read about our selection below.
Domaine de la Garenne's Bandol Red is a blend of Mourvèdre (74%), Grenache Noir (16%), Cinsault (6%), and Carignan (4%). It is then vinified for two to three weeks and aged in oak for 18 months, giving aromas are red cherry, strawberry, tobacco, leather, and anise. It pairs beautifully with gamey meats, stews, beef, veal, and spicy dishes.
Domaine de la Garenne's Bandol White is a blend of Clairette (50%), Ugni Blanc (47%), and Sémillon (3%). Dry and fresh on the palate, aromas of apple, pear, and lime complement its minerality. It pairs well with grilled fish and seafood, and is also delicious as an apéritif.
Domaine de la Garenne's Bandol Rosé is a blend of Mourvèdre (70%) and Cinsault (30%). Visually it has a lovely light pink colouring - refined and delicate in the mouth with a fresh taste of white fruits, apple and pear. It pairs beautifully with fish, seafood, grilled meats, and poultry.
Where does Bandol wine originate?
Bandol is located in the department of Var, a region within Provence in southeastern France. Bandol borders the Mediterranean Sea as well as the Sainte Baume mountain and the Mont Caume. Bandol is surrounded by the appellations of Côtes de Provence, Coteaux Varois, and Cassis.
What does Bandol wine taste like?
Bandol reds are characterised mainly by their spicy and earthy qualities. They have aromas of blackberry, raspberry, white pepper, and anise to name a few. Additional notes of forest floor, tobacco, and cured meats can be found depending on the amount of oak aging. Bandol reds show ripe black and red fruits on the nose that tarts on the palate. They are dry, full bodied, and high in tannins.
Bandol white wines are fruity and fresh, with aromas of ripe apple, pear, tropical fruits, lime, and white flowers.
Bandol rosés are also fruity and fresh, with aromas of strawberry, raspberry, and lemon.
Which food groups pair well with Bandol wine?
Bandol reds pair well with red meats like beef, veal, venison, or other game. They are also great with stews and complement spicy, creamy, or saucy dishes beautifully. The earthy and spicy characteristics of Bandol reds make them a perfect pairing for the aforementioned dishes.
Bandol rosés and whites are great sipping wines. They make for an excellent apéritif. Their freshness and fruitiness make them a great pairing for seafood and grilled fish.