The southern French appellation of Bandol is renowned for its red wines made from the Mourvèdre grape. But the region also makes powerful rosés and a smattering of whites as well.
Recently, I had the chance to enjoy one of these rare whites, from Domaine La Suffrene. This estate is a relative newcomer on the Bandol scene, founded in 1996. Its vineyards cover about 110 acres in the heart of Bandol, a small bowl-shaped appellation that lies over hilly terrain from the azure waters of the Mediterranean. It’s a warm microclimate well-suited to the late-ripening Mourvèdre; white grapes here must be able to stand up to the heat without turning flabby as well. The southern French grape Clairette, with a thick skin that ripens late, contributes 75 percent of La Suffrene’s white blend, while Ugni Blanc (known as Trebbiano in Italy) fills out the remainder.
This wine was fermented at low temperatures and was not pressed in order to preserve the freshness of its fruit. Featuring rich, ripe tropical fruit flavors, as well as apple, mineral and spice notes, and a rich mouthfeel, the Domaine La Suffrene white would make a fine match for seafood or salad on a warm summer day. I rated it 88 points, non-blind, and it costs about $20 a bottle.
WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated wines from the Bandol region.