Ten years ago, I wrote about drinking a red wine from a storied estate in southern France, the Domaine Tempier Bandol 2004. The Provençal red was delicious then and, as I recently discovered to my surprise, a decade later it is just as good, if not better.
As I detailed in 2010, I had originally stored six bottles of the wine—a Mourvèdre-based blend with other classic Rhône varieties—in the crawl space of my mother’s house in San Francisco. The city’s consistently cool maritime climate offers almost ideal natural cellaring conditions when bottles are stored close to the ground and sealed off in a dry, dark corner. Last summer, as I found myself cleaning out my mother’s house one last time, I discovered the final bottle of 2004 Tempier.
I retrieved the bottle for a special occasion, and a dinner of roast turkey with all the trimmings in the middle of a pandemic certainly qualifies. My wife, Wendy, and I missed Thanksgiving last year because we were traveling, so I bought a frozen turkey in the run-up to the COVID-19 closures and threw it in our freezer, looking forward to a day to enjoy tradition-wrapped flavors.
The table was set on a late April day and, as I took corkscrew in hand, I couldn’t help wondering if the wine would still be enjoyable. It was indeed. The fill level was high, and the cork was in perfect condition. On pouring, its aroma was still fresh, and its deep garnet color was vivid. The flavors were smooth and filled with mineral-infused red currant and dried cherry fruit, with hints of dried thyme. Balanced and still powerful, with the leathery aroma of maturity, it was a fine match for the turkey and was still good to go the next day with the first of the long parade of leftovers. How good? I rated it 92 points, non-blind, one point higher than in my blind tastings on release—a testament to its ability to grow with age.