Cabernet Sauvignon is such a natural pairing with steak that I get lazy and rarely try any other wine match, unless it's a Malbec from Argentina. But the other night, while preparing steak and rosemary-roasted potatoes, I decided on something different: a red from the Bandol appellation of southern France.
Located in Provence, between Marseille and Toulon, Bandol is known for rich reds made from Mourvèdre, which ripens well in the Mediterranean warmth. The variety is often a component of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, along with Grenache, Syrah and others. In Spain, it's known as Monastrell.
Bandol-labeled reds must contain at least 50 percent Mourvèdre. Domaine de Terrebrune's is 85 percent, plus Grenache and Cinsault. (The domaine also makes a white blend and a rosé.)
Very dark in color, the wine offered black plum, blackberry and spice aromas and delivered a mouthful of dark fruits, along with iron and earth notes. A big wine but not heavy, it was supple, polished and finished fresh, with strong mineral tones and a kick of white pepper. The sanguine note melded perfectly with the medium-rare beef, which softened the powerful tannins that were starting to smooth out. I gave it 90 points, non-blind, and expect I would find it even more enjoyable with another year or two of age. I found it on sale for $28.
My husband and I didn't finish off the bottle, and when we returned to the wine the next night, it showed less fruit and more spice and wood. The overall profile was more savory—roasted game and herbs—and earthier, though we enjoyed it just as much.
Read the original tasting note for Domaine de Terrebrune Bandol 2004 (93, $34).