Chretienne Bandol Rouge La Lecque 2013
When we first me Thierry Simon I stopped in my tracks. He was wearing a hat and at first glance he looked just like my father. Hence, he had my attention right away.
Thierry spoke to us in French, so thoughts of my dad quickly faded, but then we were riveted for another reason. Thierry's story is pretty dang good. Plus, we were in Provence, just 3km from the sea and the sun was out. Things were adding up well.
We found out that Thierry spent the "first half" of his wine life (as he puts it) as a courtier in Burgundy--searching for and purchasing grapes and wine for his discerning negociant clientele. I've met courtier like this before. The thing I know abou them is that they have great palates. They have no problem saying NO when a wine sucks, and their eyes pop out of their head when one is really good.
So, when a courtier cashes in to become a winemaker, one can expect good things. Thierry purchased La Chrétienne in 1999 from a third generation winemaking family and slowly and surely began the task of renovating, replanting, and rebuilding its brand. He claims that in 2009 he finally hit his stride and began growing and making the wine he originally imagined. (I'll beg him for someo of these unbelievalble 09s at another time.)
Bandol vineyards are close to the sea, the Mediterranean exerting its warm, sunny infuence on every winery. Many locals believe that the grape Mourvedre has its ONLY home here, much like Viognier in Condrieu, and Chenin Blanc in Vouvray. And for my money, they're all correct.
La Lecque comes from a wonderful old parcel of Mourvedre among Thierry's six hectares of vines. It yields concentrated, tiny berries that are filled with succulent fruit juice. His finished wines are what one might expect from such an intensely sunny and warm place--structured, dark, rich, and powerful. Yet somehow Thierry keeps his wines fresh (I think its from rigorous temperature control during fermentation) and very drinkable in their youth. All those years in Burgundy made an impression!
However, if you're a cellar-er kind of wine buyer, you shouldn't hesitate to put a few bottles of this down for another decade or so. The patience, as was Thierry's for over a decade, will be rewarded.