Simply put, Domaine Tempier is widely acknowledged to be the best wine producer of Peter Mayle's much-romanticized Provençe. Located in the appellation (status as such since 1941) of Bandol, some kilometers inland from the coastal vacation destination town of the same name, Tempier is especially famous for its rosé - considered by many as the very best rosé in the world. Jérome's Somelier Selection is now the authorized distributor of Tempier wines for Asia (excluding Japan).
Luigi, Jérome, Alex, Felix, Tonji, Ken, Myself and Louie
I ordered some goat's cheese on toast (chèvre en croute) to start off with chilled bottles of Jérome's 2002 Domaine Michel Redde Pouilly-fumé Cuvée Majorum - the top bottling of one of the best producers of Pouilly-fumé - and my 1999 Domaine Henri Bourgeois Sancerre La Bourgeoise - an aged medium-high bottling of one of the better producers of Sancerre which I brought for purposes of comparison. Sancerre and Pouilly-fumé both are appellations of France's Loire region, across the river from each other, both producing crisp, refreshing, minerally wines made from sauvignon blanc.
I've written about both these wines before, and one can read my respective notes by clicking on the highlighted text of the said wines above. I asked for the chèvre en croute because that is one of the traditional pairings of the Loire, and, of course, because I happen to like the pairing myself. The Majorum, in this instance, was comparatively crisper, with cleaner lines, with brighter fruit, better focus, minerality and acidic balance. It clearly upstaged the older, comparatively more mellow and softer La Bourgeoise. Louie accurately noted that the Majorum would pair well with Chinese cuisine (both fish and shellfish) and promptly ordered a case of it.
With one of my all-time favorites: the escargot bourguignonne, we had the:
2007 Tempier Bandol Rosé - Having enjoyed a previous vintage a few years ago and read several rave reviews in US wine sites about this latest available rosé of Tempier, I was very eager to try it.
An exquisitely pure and clear light pinkish salmon in color, it is a hell of a pretty wine, one could drink it in with one's eyes. In the nose - and I've never really bothered to pay much attention to any rosé's aroma before - was alluring - like a light, cooling summer cologne.
In the mouth, it is light and delicately infused with a fine melange of fresh canteloupe, strawberry, bit of melon, orange rind and the faintest whisper of lavender. Perfectly balanced. Ethereal. Astounding. My poor descriptions fail to do it justice. It is, without any shred of doubt, the best rosé I have ever had. Period.
At an IWFS Ladies' Branch tasting at Jérome's office later that evening, Mrs. Vigneron and Fely tried it as well and the latter obviously liked it as much as I. I can't say it enough, this is an incredibly good wine - and perfect for the Philippine clime.
At just a shade over P2000 per bottle (P2050 to be exact), I'm loading up on this. A bit pricey for a rosé, but, this is the best in the world and I think it's well worth it. I've compared prices in the US, and, considering the cost, not to mention hassle, of bringing some in myself, it is both marginally cheaper and much more convenient to buy it locally.
With the special of the day, an absolutely tender and succulent roasted lamb loin stuffed with goat cheese with Provençal ratatouille:
2006 Tempier Bandol Classique - Made up of mainly mourvèdre grapes with some grenache, cinsault and a touch of carignan from the different estate vineyards, this is Tempier's basic bottling. Poured straight in to the glass, it is full, masculine and unabashed, loaded with sturdily structured ripe-roasted dark plum, blackberries, cassis, very subtle black coffee and meaty undertones, pepper, anise, violets, lavender, thyme and rosemary. Admirable harmony and balance, with a discreet earthiness/meatiness that will probably surface more after a couple of years in bottle.
There is, naturally, a bit of heat at the start which subsides with aeration. Good push and length. Enjoyable now with food and a bit of aeration, with very good future potential as well.
Tonji and I later on discussed how surprisingly enjoyable it was with the food though still very young. Though it will surely gain in complexity with age, this was already very enjoyable to have with our robust, earthy main course. A reasonable P2520 per bottle from Sommelier Selection, an affordable way to get a sample of Provençe.
2004 Rubrum Obscurum by Château de Roquefort (Côtes de Provençe) - I am not at all familiar with the wines or producers of this area. Smells and feels somewhat like a highly extracted/concentrated Southern Rhône wine to me...or even a modern Priorat. Spicy, peppery, deeply-veined dark fruit, probably comes from old vines and underwent a good amount of time in wood. More power than the 2006 Tempier Classique and not as harmonious or structured. I would guess the latter will age more gracefully.
Those who enjoy powerful, spicy, peppery, up-front, Parker "blockbuster"-styled wines will probably like this. I imagine a thick hunk of rare, grilled rib-eye steak (Mamou, anyone?), Marc's Boeuf Onglet or gamey venison would pair well with this. I am not aware how much Sommelier Selection sells this for.
With a thin apple tart topped with ice cream, we had the 2006 Bott-Geyl Gewürztraminer Les Elements which was an excellent pairing. I have written about this wine several times and it should be pretty clear by now how much I enjoy this wine and how great a bargain I think it is. There is no need for me to belabor this point. I can gush over it only so much; any more is embarrassing.
Not satisfied with how much wine we had already imbibed, after all, we were all still vertical and conscious (albeit beginning to laugh a bit too loudly), Jérome invited the remaining 5 of us over to his office to taste his currently available vintage of one of Tempier's higher-end bottlings, La Tourtine. How could we say no to that?
Again, Tonji and I were surprised at how drinkable it immediately was, albeit, naturally, with more apparent youthful tannic astringency at the finish. This wine displayed superior definition and more precise focus than the Classique with more surface ripe, red berry/black cherry flavors. Its earthy power, muscle and garrigue and sun-roasted herb notes emerged after around 20 minutes with emphasis on rosemary, lavender and more discreet touches of thyme and pine. The woody notes, readily apparent but not obtrusive, will surely integrate even better given a few more years ageing. Long, strong finish, admirable balance, and, again, good harmony.
This is a wine for the long haul - something confirmed aficionados would have in their cellars. At P3800 per bottle, it is probably not an everyday wine for us mere mortals, but not at all unreasonable or unattainable. It's a buy for the cellar - I know the Doc and Stockbroker keep older vintages in theirs.
To cleanse our by now surely deeply purple-stained tongues, Jérome opened a 2006 Domaine de la Sarazinière Clos des Bruyères Bourgogne Aligoté - This is a simple, charming, inexpensive (P950 per bottle) aligoté (one of the white grapes of Burgundy, second to the ruling chardonnay of the region) that one can open pretty much anytime wants a fresh, dry, unpretentious and pleasant sip of white, or, with a simple fish dish or even, perhaps, a light salad. Well-chilled on a hot afternoon, pour over a tiny bit of crème de cassis and you have a kir (which I almost always choose as an aperitif in Burgundy).
Light, clean green apple, demure citrus and a nuance of straw ("chaume", I believe is the French descriptor). Something to drink young, whimsically, and, at its price, anytime one wants.
It was a welcome refresher after a hard-fought day.
As we were getting ready to take our leave, the ladies started trickling in and I figured I'd stay a few more minutes to say hi to Mrs. Vigneron and Fely and witness how they find the Tempier rosé and Bott-Geyl gewürz.
Of course, when Jérome started pouring fresh bottles for the ladies, he also offered us (by now, just Tonji, Louie, Alex and I) some of the wines we had already passed through ("a second round" said he). One look at that luscious rosé and golden gewürz and I just couldn't refuse - how weak I am when it comes to good wine.
All told, by around 7:30pm, we said our goodbyes, gave our thanks and rushed back south. After all, I had a friend's farewell dinner to attend and was already running late.
Thanks for the enjoyable day and marathon wine session, Jérome. I'd steer clear of Catha though, if I were you, especially after she reads this and figures out how much I drank for yesterday's 7½-hour lunch. My excuse was that I was forced to drink all that wine. Heh heh.