We tasted: Domain Bunan Bandol, M&S, £11.32 (down from £17)
Emma says: “This heatwave in the UK has brought with it many uncomfortable experiences. Oven like conditions on the Jubilee Line, muggy offices where everyone is fighting over a USB powered portable fan, and not to mention the restless nights without air con or breezes. We just aren’t hardwired for heat in this little island.
I can now add to that list the need to taste Mourvèdre on a hot sweaty night. I arrived home off the heated pavements just swooning for a glass of something chilled and white. But no, I devised this dastardly 52 Grapes schedule so I really must drink this 14.5% alcohol beast of a red. So here goes.
Mourvèdre actually loves heat, as grapes go. Winemakers use it in a blend because it retains a good amount of acidity in heat. That is difficult in warm climates because as the grape accumulates sugar it loses acidity. On the first aroma this is definitely a ripe red, full of brooding dark fruits with a spicy and earthy edge, exactly what I expect from Mourvèdre. The fruit is plummy and sweet with a gentle perfume of fresh beetroot. To taste it is really a mouthful, the feeling is grippy but not astringent and it sits heavily on the palate with that warming alcohol really hitting at the back of the mouth. The fruit flavours are dense and there is this sort of earthy clay taste with gives it a distinct savoury expression. I also get that herbal undertone that is typical of Southern french wines a bit like dried herbs in a pasta sauce. I can really appreciate how complex this wine is, even if it wasn’t what I was feeling like drinking today. I almost feel a little sad that I’m not sitting by a camp fire chilling in a typically cool English summer evening. This would have been the ultimate wine for that occasion.
So in summary if you love heavy, full bodied reds and haven’t tried Mourvèdre, in particular a Bandol, then please do. This is a wine that may tick all your boxes. I might have to buy another bottle and keep it for when the winter sets in.”
Andy says: “You might have noticed that our notes and pages have been appearing later and later. That’s mostly due to my addiction to Softball and playing Mon/Tue/Wed for the last 10 weeks or so.
That has severely eaten into the time available to keep things up to date. It was the same again this week, as I arrived home at around 10pm (early, actually), hot, tired, sweaty, and needing to taste a Mourvèdre. The first thing I noticed as I poured it was the lovely deep purple ink colour of the wine. I gave it a sniff (it’s what you do) and said it smelt smokey. ‘Not really’, said Emma, who then sniffed it and said ‘actually, yeah it does’. Master of Wine nil, sweaty bloke one.
‘Earthy, smokey richness’ was my next phrase, which scored big points as apparently ‘earthy’ is the classic description, and one I see Emma used. I promise I hadn’t read her notes this time. There was also a touch of ‘farmyard’ to it. If you’ve ever walked through a muddy field of cows, or a barnyard, you’ll know the smell I mean. Not as strong and vomit inducing as the real life smell, obviously, just that hint of countryside. It’s known as brett, and at the right level can add an extra dimension to the wine, which it did here. The tannins were tight and grippy, but let go immediately.”
Mourvèdre (aka Monastrell in Spain) is a grape variety most commonly used as a small part of a blend. We will be seeking out a Bandol from the South of France where this grape is used as the dominant grape in their styles. Any Monastrell from Spain would equally work well.