Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Bandol that started it all

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2004 Domaine Le Galantin | AC Bandol

I felt deeply conflicted as I uncorked this bottle. This particular wine holds great significance to me as it was the first wine I wrote about here, the wine that really started LCF all those years ago. I was always fascinated with these country wines, these wines that were unabashedly, unapologetically from the dirt and rock. Le Galantin was certainly one of them. I remember how ferocious this wine was, even after all this time. I bought two of these way back in second year university - the first bottle opened soon after, tannins so severe and hard my eyes teared up. Second one kept until now, under less than optimal conditions.

Immediately, the foil and cork looked terrible. Wine seeping through, depositing a sticky mess under the capsule. Cork soaked through, but still relatively intact. Fine, almost muddy sediment. Decanted it off, and had a quick taste.

Extraordinary.

Bandol, an area in the south of France producing rich, tannic monsters. Made of predominantly mourvèdre grapes (at least 50% by law), the wines are long-lived and celebrate those brett-y, barnyard-y characters of the countryside. And I remember this wine to be above all, stinky. As much stank in a wine as you can imagine - borderline undrinkable at the time. With a few years of bottle age, it begins making sense. The brett transforming into a wild, savoury quality, the minerality finally revealing itself, that blood iron aroma. Fruit, pure and sweet. Alcohol quite heady at 14.5%, but the palate carries it well, becoming sweeter and sweeter. Finely knit tannins, fully resolved and leaving just a tickle of texture on the finish.

Truth to the notion that even moderate terms of bottle age will benefit even modest wines. So why the conflicted feelings? Maybe I'm just complicated like that. Maybe there was this thing in the back of my head that once I uncorked this one, it would be gone. But I drank it with two of my best mates, the people I care most about. And I remember why we do this, that who you share wine with has as much meaning as what's in the glass.

DF

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