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Mark Squires' E-Zine on Wine

November/December, 1997

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Bandol Tasting with Michel Bettane

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In Paris last month, at a well known wine school, "Grains Nobles," I had the chance to attend a tasting led by celebrated French wine writer Michel Bettane. Bettane is perhaps the most prominent wine writer in France, and a key member of the Revue du Vin de France. As is traditional in his Grains Nobles tastings, Bettane brings all the wine from his own cellar. This event focused on Bandol (mourvedre based, known for its rustic and somewhat gamey wines), and what was most interesting was how many enjoyable wines he brought that were virtually unknown to Americans. Probably, you think Domaine Tempier defines Bandol. Bettane brought nary a one. He lacked some of the special cuvées, and thought that recent regular vintages were not as successful as in the past. Sure, you’ve heard of Pradeaux, perhaps Pibarnon or Vannières. But what about Lafran-Veyrolles, Salettes and Noblesse?

And by the way.....Did you know that there’s actually a Bandol style in which some of the wines seem a bit off-dry? And that some of these can actually age quite awhile? Sometimes the most interesting tastings are the ones that result in new discoveries.

Warm Up

Bettane brought a couple of wines near the Bandol appellation and style. For starters: 1989 Cotes de Roussillon (Sardat-Malet) This was only 30% Mourvedre and seemed too thin to be interesting. This wine might have been charming and more voluptuous in its youth, but it should have been drunk young. 79 points.