2019 Domaine Tempier, Bandol Blanc, $60
Winery Info: This southern French domaine was established in the 1830s, just outside the Mediterranean port village of Bandol, in Provence.
But their rise to prominence really began when winemaker Lucien Peyraud married into the Tempier family in 1936. He and his wife Lucie (“Lulu”) received the Tempier farm as a wedding present and he quickly set to work restoring the vines and reviving the original local grapes, some of which had been devastated by phylloxera. With the help of neighboring winemakers, Lucien was instrumental in establishing AOC status for Bandol in 1941, and Tempier remains one of the most important producers in the appellation. Importer Kermit Lynch writes: “the wines of Domaine Tempier stand as the proud benchmark when talking about Provençal wines. If any wine can be said to have soul, it’s Tempier.”
Grapes: Typically about 60% Clairette and 30% Ugni Blanc, blended with Rolle, Bourbelanc, and Marsanne, and vinified in tanks and large casks. The grapes are grown in sandy, marl soil in a cooler site that emphasizes freshness in their white and Rosé wines.
Flavor Profile: Rich and complex with flavors of orchard fruit (peach and pears), a touch of citrus, and a wonderful stony minerality.
Availability: The distributor has a small amount left.
Drinking Window: Enjoy anytime over the next four or five years.
Food Pairing: Enjoy with crab, lobster, Provençal grilled fish, or other Mediterranean-inspired dishes.
2018 Brown Estate, Chaos Theory, $44
Winery Info: In 1980 Bassett and Marcela Brown purchased an abandoned ranch in the Chiles Valley AVA in the eastern hills of Napa Valley. They restored the property and planted nine acres of vines. The local microclimate proved perfectly suited to growing Zinfandel and their fruit, which they sold to local winemakers, grew in demand over the next few decades. In the 1990s, their children David, Deneen, and Coral decided they wanted to make their own wine from their fruit, and they officially established Brown Estate in 1996. David, who had worked with some of the wineries who purchased the family fruit, has been winemaker since the beginning. Brown Estate is the first and only Black-owned estate winery in Napa Valley.
Grapes: 50% Petite Sirah, 40% Merlot, and 10% Zinfandel, aged ten months in 30% new French and American oak.
Vineyard: The Petite Sirah comes from Brown Estate and Gobbler Grove in Napa Valley, the Merlot from Dollar Ranch in Napa Valley, and the Zinfandel from Hawk Creek, in the Sierra Foothills.
Flavor Profile: Soft, silky, and medium bodied, with complex notes of ripe red fruit and nice hints of dark figs. It is a plush wine, but very well balanced. The tannins are smooth and well integrated and the finish long and satisfying.
Availability: 2,500 cases made. This is the last of this vintage.
Drinking Window: Enjoy now or up to 2026 or so.
Food Pairing: This is a great wine for lamb dishes.