21 Oct Chateau Salettes
The 17th century Château Salettes is situated on the Mediterranean coast between Toulon and Marseille at the foot of the hilltop village of La Cadière d’Azur. The vineyard is planted on a gentle slope overlooking the azure waters of the Golfe de Saint-Cyr-les-Lecques, ideal for the estate’s prized Mourvèdre vines to soak up Bandol’s abundant sunshine. As the appellation’s signature grape, Mourvèdre constitutes 50% of Château Salettes’ plantings.
For 35 years, Jean-Pierre Boyer directed this beautiful 120-acre estate before handing over the reins to his son Nicolas at the turn of the millennium. The dynamic and charismatic Nicolas became the 17th generation of the Ricard-Boyer family to oversee the domaine. Under Nicolas’ direction, an ambitious and costly, ten-year expansion project was undertaken that included modernization of Salette’s 17th century cellar and the removal of enormous slabs of rock from potentially great vineyard plots. Sadly, as Nicolas’ vision was becoming reality, he lost his courageous, two-year battle with cancer. Since Nicolas’ passing in 2011, his father has resumed stewardship of the family business and today, with the help of talented, young University of Montpellier enologist, Alexandre Le Corguillé, Jean-Pierre continues to make the upgrades necessary to ensure that Château Salettes is still a leading Bandol estate when Nicolas’ young son (also named Alex), the 18th generation, is ready to take over.
Salettes’ production is 50% Bandol Rosé, 38% Bandol Rouge, and 12% Bandol Blanc. The powerful and age-worthy red wine is comprised of a minimum of 80% Mourvèdre from the estate’s oldest vines planted in the 1960s. With the 2012 vintage, Jean-Pierre Boyer and Winemaker Alex Le Corguillé introduced a new red cuvée called Cayenne. Made from a perfectly-situated parcel of 40-plus year-old Mourvèdre planted on sandstone and clay, the new wine is named for Le Bagne de Cayenne, the 19th Century prison established in French Guyana for political prisoners. The backbreaking efforts of Salettes’ vineyard crew in the early 1970s evoke images of the classic Steve McQueen-Dustin Hoffman movie, Papillon, as the workers had to bust up slabs of sandstone with pickaxes to make this parcel arable. Both the Classic Bandol Rouge and Cuvée Cayenne are aged in large oak foudres for 18 to 22 months in a vaulted cellar built in 1677. As for Salettes’ Rosé, it validates Bandol’s reputation as France’s finest. Much more than a Provence vin de soif, this delicious blend of Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Grenache is a surprisingly complex and versatile wine.
|Vines:||60 acres of the estate’s 123 are currently under vine (93% planted to red varieties)
Red: 29.7 acres Mourvèdre, 13.6 acres Cinsault, 11.3 acres Grenache, with 0.6 acre each of Carignan and Syrah
White: 3.6 acres Clairette Pointue, 0.6 acres Rolle (Vermentino)
Average age of vines for Bandol Rouge is 45 years-old.
Average age of vines for Bandol Rosé is 25 years-old.
|Wines:||Bandol Rouge – 90% Mourvèdre, 10% Grenache
Bandol Rouge Cuvée Cayenne – 100% Mourvèdre (though back label states 95% Mourvèdre and 5% Grenache) from an ideally situated, one-hectare parcel of sandstone and blue clay marl
Bandol Rosé – 40% Mourvèdre, 28% Cinsault, 27% Grenache, 5% Syrah Bandol Blanc – 95% Clairette, 5% Vermentino
|Soil:||Santonian limestone (calcaire) and sandstone (grès) with clay marls|
|Harvest:||Manual harvest using shallow bins (AC Bandol rules prohibit mechanical harvesting)|
|Yields:||Average of 36 hectolitres/hectare for both Bandol Rouge and Rosé
28 hl/ha for Bandol Rouge Cuvée Cayenne
|Vinification & Elevage:||All fruit is destemmed. Indigenous yeasts standard for red wines but used for both rosé and blanc for the first time in 2016. Cuvaison for red wines is generally three-to-four weeks with daily routine of pigeage (punching down) in the morning and remontage (pumping over) in the afternoon. Reds are moved to 2500 liter oak casks (foudres) where they undergo malo-lactic fermentation, are racked and then returned for minimum elevage of 18 months. The red wines are not fined or filtered. For the Bandol Rosé, 55% is direct pneumatic press juice, 40% undergoes six-to-seven hour maceration after press, and 5% of the blend is saignée Mourvèdre. The wine is fermented in thermo-regulated stainless steel vats. No malo-lactic. It remains in contact with its lees for 6 months in vat. Bentonite is used for fining and the wine gets a medium (1 micron) filtration before bottling in early March in compliance with AOP law. Bottling is scheduled according to the lunar calendar. Vinification for the Bandol Blanc is similar to the rosé however in 80% cylindrical cement cuves and 20% in stainless steel tanks.|