Andrew Guard


Appellation Bandol needs no introduction to Australia, it’s wines were long ago successfully introduced to the fine wine scene here and have since graced many restaurant wine lists. The mainstay grape variety in Bandol is Mourvèdre which also needs no introduction as it has lived successfully domestically for over 150 years and has contributed to many celebrated old wines (and their fond memories). In the last 10 years some of Australia’s best wine estates have been bottling special plots of Mourvèdre on it’s own.

Mourvèdre is king in Bandol and Agnès Henry is queen in her village high up in the hills. Here at one of the finest Estates in Provence, Mourvèdre expresses all of its dark and meaty potential. Tour du Bon means Tower of Good; the Domaine was named after a watchtower which is said to have been sited here to protect the local village. Certainly, a sense of harmony and peace pervade the air.

Bandol has eight separate villages, each with its own differing geology and microclimate. Up in the commune of Le Brulat is Domaine de la Tour du Bon, run now completely by Agnès, whose father originally bought the domaine in 1968. The estate comprises 12 hectares, which are worked organically and quasi-biodynamically and is planted to around 50% Mourvedre, 25% Grenache and the rest Cinsault, Carignan, Rolle and Clairette. The soils are ancient and predominantly clay limestone, with part red clay sandstone and part white limestone and sand. The climate is gentle with usually 300 days of dazzling, luminous sunshine, gentle sea breezes and low rainfall. Thus, strong Mourvedre, gentle climate and deeply supporting soils combine to create very special wines. As with all vineyards in Bandol there is a prevailing maritime influence and you can see the sea from the vines.

Agnès’ red wines are simply brilliant - deeply black fruited and broad shouldered, yet tenderly laced with spice and pepper. All the wines are incredibly age worthy but, because of the density of flavour, are very drinkable as young wines.

The ochre tinted Rosé is perfumed and invigorating with a fresh, spicy palate; the estate Bandol is refined and silky yet still meaty and powerful. The Bandol ‘Revolution’ is softer and purpose built for wine bars. The “Saint Ferréol” is produced from 90% Mourvedre and very reserved; its spicy, refined palate leaves behind sensations of tobacco and truffles; Carignan's acidity opens up the wine and brings out the brilliance in its shadowy depths. These remarkable wines are among the finest of Provence.


Written by Andrew Guard — June 16, 2012