Eric Boisseaux and his son, Charles-Eric, organically farm 32 hectares of prime land in Bandol, Provence.
They make rose, white and red wines, but this post only refers to the reds they make.
Eric's grandfather, originally from Burgundy, bought the property in 1956 and they've made beautiful wines ever since.
I've been drinking a lot of their 2009 red, which is superb. In some instances it reminds me of a vintage left bank St Julien claret. Soft, elegant, a touch of sweetness (just a hint) and very refined.
Bandol wines are highly variable (in taste, not quality, I mean). You get some big red beasts, such as Gros N'ore in some vintages (2008), and you get some delicate, almost pinot noir-like wines, such as 2007 Vivonne.
For me Vannières sits in the middle of these. It doesn't have the punchy minerality of my other favourite, Terrebrune, or the austerity of Tempier, but is all the better for that. It's very much a reflection of the land and the winemaker's preferences. Perhaps it's the burgundy heritage meeting the Bandol AOC soil, but it's a wine unlike any other in the region, and ages long and well.
I've had a 1990 that stood up fairly well, and have a 1983 in my wine fridge to try on a special occasion soon. As well as using Foudres, the big old oak barrel of the region, Eric and his son are also experimenting with some barrel fermentation in barriques, as you can see in the pictures below. Tasting them from barrel was a fascinating experience, and I look forward to tasting some of the results from bottle eventually.
During a recent visit to Château Vannières I asked owner Eric Boisseaux to tell me a little about the wines he makes, his organic winemaking practices and his views on ageing Bandol wines in Provence. Here's the interview below, and some photos below that.
This is producer I heartily recommend, as mentioned, of my favourites in Bandol, given it's unique flavour profile.