Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuveé Cabassaou

Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuveé Cabassaou, 2014

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  • icon-grapevariety Grape variety
    Mourvedre 92%, Syrah 6%, Cinsaut 2%

The Cabassaou cuvée (ça cabasse = gives a hefty punch) is from a terroir with small stone walls, at the bottom of the Tourtine, protected from the Mistral wind.

The vines benefit from a very warm micro-climate with thermal winds. Paradoxically the vines are located at the bottom of the hill but the soil is not deep and the yields are very small.

They give a very dense, tight wine, typically Mourvèdre, with an exceptional aging potential (15y+). The grapes are hand-selected in the vineyard and the cellar, then de-stemmed, crushed and put into concrete vats for 3 or 4 weeks to ferment thanks to indigenous yeasts. The wine is then aged in large oak vats for 18 months before being bottled.

About Domaine Tempier

Domaine Tempier is one of the most significant producers in the Bandol appellation of Provence, in southern France. It is best-known for its structured red wines made from Mourvèdre, but like most producers in the region it also makes a rosé wine.

The domaine was established in the 1830s and grew in prominence under Léonie Tempier, who brought fame to the company in 1885 by winning a gold medal for her Mourvèdre-dominant red wine. However, by the early 20th century phylloxera had devastated the region's vines and wine industry. Mourvèdre was largely replaced by higher-yield varieties or by different crops altogether.

In 1936, Léonie’s great-granddaughter Lucie Tempier married aspiring winemaker Lucien Peyraud. As a wedding present, Peyraud was given an old vintage of Domaine Tempier wine. He was so impressed he joined in an effort to revive pre-phylloxera traditions at the family estate and in Bandol itself. In 1941, Bandol was awarded AOC status, stipulating a minimum of 50 percent Mourvèdre and 18 months of barrel aging for reds. The Peyraud family still plays a significant part in the winemaking process and the domaine remains family-owned.

Located near Le Plan du Castellet in the heart of Bandol, Domaine Tempier has vineyards in three different communes: Le Castellet, Le Beausset and La Cadière. It makes four wines from these sites: a standard Bandol and three single-vineyard wines called La Migoua, La Tourtine and Cabassaou. Tempier's Bandol Blanc is mostly Clairette with small amounts of Ugni Blanc, Bourboulenc and Marsanne. The rosé, like the reds, is Mourvèdre-dominant, but the Bandol AOC allows the use of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsaut and Carignan.

Grape variety

Cinsaut or Cinsault is a red wine grape, whose heat tolerance and productivity make it important in Languedoc-Roussillon and the former French colonies of Algeria, Lebanon and Morocco. It is often blended with grapes such as Grenache and Carignan to add softness and bouquet.

It has many synonyms, of which perhaps the most confusing is its sale as a table grape called 'Oeillade', although it is different from the "true" Oeillade which is no longer cultivated. In South Africa, it was known as "Hermitage", hence the name of its most famous cross Pinotage.

The vine can produce heavy crops, but wines are much better if yields are controlled. Cinsaut is very drought resistant but can be susceptible to disease, so appreciates a dry climate. It produces large cylindrical bunches of black grapes with fairly thick skins.

Alternative Names: Cinsault, Cinqsaut, Cinq-saou, Ottavianello, Oeillade, Black Malvoisie, Blue Imperial, Black Prince, Samso


Mourvèdre is a red wine grape variety grown in many regions around the world including the Rhône and Provence regions of France, the Valencia and Jumilla denominaciones de origen of Spain, as well as the Balearic Islands, California and Washington and the Australian regions of South Australia and New South Wales, as well as South Africa. In addition to making red varietal wines, Mourvèdre is a prominent component in "GSM" (Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre) blends. The variety is also used to make rosé and port-style fortified wines.

Mourvèdre tends to produce tannic wines that can be high in alcohol. The style of wine produced from the grapes varies greatly according to where it is produced, but according to wine expert Jancis Robinson Mourvèdre wines often have wild game, or earthy notes to them, with soft red fruit flavours. According to wine expert Oz Clarke, young Mourvèdre can come across as faulted due to the reductive, sulfur notes and "farmyard-y" flavours that some wines can exhibit before those flavours mellow with age.

The variety can be a difficult grape to grow, preferring "its face in the hot sun and its feet in the water" meaning that it needs very warm weather, a low leaf-to-fruit ratio but adequate water or irrigation to produce intensely flavoured fruit that is not overly jammy or herbaceous. The vines' susceptibility to many viticultural hazards such as powdery and downy mildew as well as overly vigorous foliage can present additional problems for vine growers.

The small, thick-skin berries of Mourvèdre are high in phenolic compounds that have the potential to produce a deeply coloured, very tannic wine with significant alcohol levels if harvested at high sugar levels. However, the variety is rarely harvested at sugar levels below 13% alcohol (approx 23 Brix) because the flavours at those lower levels are often very weak and herbaceous. In winemaking, wines made from Mourvèdre are prone to both oxidation and reductive flavours (such as hydrogen sulphide) if care is not taken at the winery. While in Bandol, it is common to ferment Mourvèdre with the stems, the grapes usually go through a crusher/destemmer in New World regions such as a California due to the harsher, green tannins that are more typical of the stems in those regions. While the wine can be stored in oak barrels, it often does not absorb oak flavours as well as other varieties (such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) so it is often stored in neutral oak or large format barrels.

In many regions of the world, Mourvèdre is often blended with other varieties such as Grenache and Syrah in the "GSM" blends of Rhône, Australia and the United States. In these blends, Mourvèdre often provides colour, fruit and some tannic structure to complement the fruity Grenache and elegant Syrah. In Provence and Rhône it also sometimes blended with Cinsault and Carignan as part of both red table wines and rosé. In Australia, the variety is sometimes used in fortified port-style wines.

According to wine expert Jancis Robinson, in favourable vintages Mourvèdre can produce highly perfumed wines with intense fruit flavours and notes of blackberries and gamy or meaty flavours. Oz Clarke notes that some examples of Mourvèdre may come across as faulted in their youth with "farmyard-y" and strong herbal flavours. As the wine ages, more earthy tertiary aromas may develop before becoming more leather and gingerbread aroma notes.

In both Old and New World wine regions, Mourvèdre is a popular grape to be used in rosé winemaking. These wines can be made as a dedicated rosé where the skins are allowed only a brief period of skin contact (a few hours or a single day) before they are pressed or as saignée where some of the juice destined for a red Mourvèdre is "bled off" during fermentation creating two separate wines - a darker, more concentrated red wine and the lighter rosé.

Alternative Names: Monastrell, Mataro, Esparte, Etrangle-Chien


Syrah, also known as Shiraz, is a dark-skinned grape variety grown throughout the world and used primarily to produce red wine. In 1999, Syrah was found to be the offspring of two obscure grapes from south-eastern France, Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche. Syrah should not be confused with Petite Sirah, a cross of Syrah with Peloursin dating from 1880.

The style and flavour profile of wines made from Syrah are influenced by the climate where the grapes are grown with moderate climates (such as the northern Rhone Valley and parts of the Walla Walla AVA in Washington State) tending to produce medium to full-bodied wines with medium-plus to high levels of tannins and notes of blackberry, mint and black pepper. In hot climates (such as Crete, and the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale regions of Australia), Syrah is more consistently full-bodied with softer tannin, jammier fruit and spice notes of liquorice, anise and earthy leather. In many regions the acidity and tannin levels of Syrah allow the wines produced to have favourable aging potential.

Syrah is used as a single varietal or as a blend. Following several years of strong planting, Syrah was estimated in 2004 to be the world's 7th most grown grape at 142,600 hectares (352,000 acres). It can be found throughout the globe from France to New World wine regions such as: Chile, South Africa, the Hawke's Bay, Waiheke, New Zealand, California and Washington. It can also be found in several Australian wine regions such as: Barossa, Heathcote, Coonawarra, Hunter Valley, Margaret River and McLaren Vale

Wines made from Syrah are often powerfully flavoured and full-bodied. The variety produces wines with a wide range of flavour notes, depending on the climate and soils where it is grown, as well as other viticultural practices chosen. Aroma characters can range from violets to berries (usually dark as opposed to red), chocolate, and black pepper. No one aroma can be called "typical" though blackberry, coffee and pepper are often noticed. With time in the bottle these "primary" notes are moderated and then supplemented with earthy or savoury "tertiary" notes such as leather and truffle. "Secondary" flavour and aroma notes are those associated with several things, generally winemakers' practices (such as oak barrel and yeast treatment).

The Syrah-dominated appellations (AOCs) of northern Rhône have, like most other French appellations and regions, no tradition of varietal labelling of their wines. Indeed, such practices are generally disallowed under AOC rules, and only the AOC name (such as Cote-Rotie, Crozes-Hermitage or Hermitage) appears on the label. Varietal labelling of Syrah/Shiraz wines is therefore a practice that has emerged in the New World, primarily in Australia.

To confuse matters, in northern Rhône, different clones of genuine Syrah are referred to as Petite Syrah (small Syrah) or Gros Syrah (large Syrah) depending on the size of their berries, with Petite Syrah being considered the superior version, giving wines higher in phenolics.

As a general rule, most Australian and South African wines are labelled "Shiraz", and most European wines (from such regions where varietal labelling is practiced) are labelled "Syrah". In other countries, practices vary and winemakers (or wine marketers) sometimes choose either "Syrah" or "Shiraz" to signify a stylistic difference in the wine they have made. "Syrah"-labelled wines are sometimes thought to be more similar to classic Northern Rhône reds; presumably more elegant, tannic, smoke-flavoured and restrained with respect to their fruit component. "Shiraz"-labelled wines, on the other hand, would then be more similar to archetypical Australian or other New World examples, presumably made from riper berries, more fruit-driven, higher in alcohol, less obviously tannic, peppery rather than smoky, usually more easily approached when young, and possibly slightly sweetish in impression. It must, however, be realised that this rule of thumb is unevenly applied.

Alternative Names: Shiraz, Hermitage

About Bandol

Bandol is a key appellation of the Provence wine region in far south-eastern France. Created in 1941, the title covers red, white and rosé wines from roughly 1550 hectares (3830 acres) of vineyards around the Mediterranean coastal town of Bandol. These are spread unevenly across eight communes in the Var departement, with the majority being located just north of Bandol itself, in Le Beausset, La Cadière-d'Azur, Le Castellet and Évenos.

Bandol is most famous for its red wines, which make up the majority of the appellation's output. These contain a high proportion of Mourvèdre – the appellation rules require at least 50 percent. Using this quantity of such a spicy, powerful grape variety makes for a very characterful wine – one that would be hard to create in any other area of France. Mourvèdre will only ripen reliably in a climate as sunny and hot as that which prevails along the Mediterranean coast.

Grenache is the other main component of Bandol red (and rosé) wines. It is an earlier-ripening variety and actually risks over-ripeness in the intense climate here, bringing too much potential alcohol to the wines. This has turned out to be less of an inconvenience than it might seem; the local vignerons plant Grenache on the cooler, north-facing slopes and Mourvèdre on the warmer, south-facing slopes. Cinsaut is the final key ingredient in Bandol rouge, accompanied by up to 20 percent of the Carignan and Syrah grape varieties.

Bandol rosé wines, which account for about a third of total output, are known for their spicy, earthy character and rank among the more distinguished rosés that France has to offer. Like the reds, they are made from a blend that is dominated by Mourvedre, Grenache and Cinsaut. Alexandre Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo famously enjoyed a glass of Bandol rose "bien frais".

The appellation's white wines are made predominantly from Clairette (which is required by law to make up 50 to 90 percent of any Bandol Blanc), bolstered by Bourboulenc and Ugni Blanc, plus a small quantity of Marsanne and Vermentino or the Bordeaux white varieties Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

Throughout Provence, a series of low coastal mountain ranges and ridges creates varied mesoclimates. The warmest are those directly next to the Mediterranean, which also provides a moderating effect. The stretch of coastline that is home to the Bandol and Cassis appellations is a prime example of this. Protected from cold north winds by the Montagne Sainte-Victoire and the Massif de la Sainte-Baume to the north, and the Chaîne de Saint-Cyr to the west, the vines here enjoy sheltered, warm growing conditions.

The highly desirable French Riviera real estate occupied by the Bandol vineyards, coupled with the spread of tourism in the region, means that the greatest threats to the future of Bandol wine are bricks and mortar, rather than climate change or shifting market trends. Holiday resorts and golf courses are already making their mark on the landscape here, occupying sites once covered with vines – particularly to the west of Bandol town itself.

Regular price $723.00

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