By Paul Caputo

Bandol is one of France’s best kept secrets, a cult wine, revered by a small but discerning crowd of enthusiasts who frequently horde them in their cellars to mature and soften. They wait with admirable patience for the years to pass, eventually uncorking them to ethereal notes of mature berry fruit and the savoury notes of earth and spice. At their best Bandol reds are deep and robust, partnering jammy red fruit with garrigue-dominated fragrance, typical of coastal vineyards. With age, they shrug off the harsh tannins so generously given by the Mourvèdre grape and shimmer with complexity, elegance and personality. Bandol, frankly, is the quintessential country wine of Southern France.

This small but premium-quality appellation is located in the south of the Provence, framed by the Mediterranean and just a short coastal drive east from France’s second city, Marseilles. Such proximity to a busy trading centre has ensured wide distribution for Bandol throughout its relatively prestigious history, which dates back to the ancient world. It was granted official appellation status in 1941, one of the first in France.

Yet Bandol’s modern wine scene developed slowly, only really gathering pace in the 1980s. In 1963 Georges Delille purchased a property in the village of Ollioules and spent more than a decade renovating and replanting. He was joined in 1980 by his son Reynald, who straight out of winemaking school and excited to start his career, launched what would soon become Domaine de Terrebrune, today one of the finest estates in Bandol, named evocatively after the rich brown local soils.