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Bandol Bold: Domaine Souviou

Salmon Wrapped In Rice Paper, photo by lee kleinDuck Broth with Egg Noodles, photo by lee kleinWarm Gruyére Custard With Asian Pear and Black Truffle, photo by lee kleinLamb with Red Pepper Crust and Fava Bean Ragout, photo by lee kleinDessert, photo by lee kleinMr. Roger Jaar, Victor Passalacqua, and Melissa Boon

It was at a wine luncheon at the Miami Culinary Institute of Miami-Dade College that I first sampled Domaine Souviou wines from Bandol, a port town and key appellation in the Provençe region of France. Wines from the Bandol Appellation d’Origine Controlée (established in 1942), are renowned for their power, distinction and vivid character.

Mr. Roger Jaar, Victor Passalacqua, and Melissa Boon

The Domaine de Souviou, first surveyed in 1588, is comprised of roughly 102 acres of vineyards and olive trees. Silicon and limestone soils, heatedby the warm coastal sun and cooled by the sea, provide perfectly suited conditions for the late-ripening Mourvèdre grape (the major varietal of the region). For reds and rosés to qualify for the Bandol A.O.C., Mourvèdre must account for at least 50%, with Grenache and Cinsautvarietals harmoniously rounding out the blend.

Duck Broth with Egg Noodles, photo by lee klein

Mourvèdre is a demanding grape. It requires time to develop its potent character, lending Bandol wines their excellent aging potential: Domaine de Souviou wines are delightful after 3 or 4 years, but fully expressed between ten and fifteen years. Either way, they are exceedingly food friendly. Which takes us to the luncheon at Café Protégé in the Miami Culinary Institute. The first course, duck broth with egg noodles, was complemented by Domaine Souviou’s 2010 Côtes de Provence. The broth possessed deep aromatic notes of Chinese 5-spice that were beautifully embraced by the Côtes’ refined bouquet of dark berries and cherries.

Salmon Wrapped In Rice Paper, photo by lee klein

A 2016 Bandol Blanc Domaine Souviou chaperoned a moist wedge of salmon crisply wrapped in rice paper. This Bandol white, made predominantly from the Clairette grape (which by law mush make up 50 to90 percent of any Bandol blanc), launches a clean attack followed by scents of citrus, orchard fruits and a fresh sea breeze (the grapes are grown on hillsides invigorated by Mediterranean mists). What better flavors to swim with salmon, the accompanying citrus vinaigrette, and stout wasabi mashed potatoes?

Warm Gruyére Custard With Asian Pear and Black Truffle, photo by lee klein

The Bandol Rosé Domaine Souviou 2016 possesses enough character and piquancy to melt the heart of our warm Gruyére custard adorned with Asian pear and black truffle shavings. As with Bandol reds, the rosé is made from Mourvédre, Grenache and Cinsaut varietals, and after a manual harvest the ripe grapes are procured by hand. Unlike the Bandol reds, which are aged in oak barrels for 24 months, the Souviou rosé is stored in stainless steel vats to maintain the clean, graceful rosé traits. This is a long-lived wine with exceptional roundness and a burst of robust grapefruit, apricot and peach aromas. Alexandre Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo liked his glass of Bandol rosé "bien frais" (well chilled).

Lamb with Red Pepper Crust and Fava Bean Ragout, photo by lee klein

The flagship wine of the Domaine Souviou is the Cuvée Delphi Bandol, a shimmering ruby-red beauty that juxtaposes generosity with finesse. With Mourvréde making up 67% of the wine, this makes for an exemplary Bandol: a perfect balance of roundness and power. The soft tannins and ripe berry and blackcurrant notes pair ideally with red meats, hearty stews,chocolate and nuts. The bold complexity of Souviou’s Cuvée Delphi Bandol more than held its own against the potent flavors of lamb rack with spicy red pepper crust and fava bean ragout.

Dessert, photo by lee klein

Domaine Souviou produces these affordable, elegant Bandol wines in limited quantities, and they have only recently become available in South Florida. You’d do well to consider it for your next meal, although the wines are accessible enough to likewise enjoy while just sitting around with some friends. Now that you know about these wines, you can try them and buy them at The Domaine Souviou Wine Bar and Boutique at 5760 Sunset Drive in South Miami.