Thursday, July 14, 2011

2009 Domaine du Bagnol Cassis White Provence France

Ever heard about or tasted a white or a rosé wine from Cassis? No? Well, it is not surprising; there are only a few on the US market. These characteristic and distinctive wines, for the vast majority of them, are consumed locally, never leaving the region, which is a joy for the locals and especially the many tourists, yet it is a lost for the rest of us. Fortunately, one of my favorite wine importers, Rosenthal, has one of the best examples this small Provence wine region has to offer.

Madrose /Rosenthal used to carry this jewel of an estate of the French Riviera, called “Domaine du Bagnol”, yet they lost it at some point; but then again the brand came back to the portfolio that introduced it in the past to avid New Yorkers.

As the Madrose website precises it: “It is a rare but wonderful feeling when one can actually "go home again" and rediscover something wonderful that one thought was lost. The transition of this estate from the Lefevre family hands to those of Jean-Louis Genovesi has resulted in a renaissance that we are particularly pleased to bring back to the USA. Of particular note is the bold white wine from Cassis that is produced here: a blend of Marsanne (50%), Clairette (35%) and Ugni (15%). We missed having this wine in our portfolio and are genuinely happy to play in this field once again. The Rose arrived and immediately sold out; now is the time to belly up and enjoy the Blanc.”- Neal Rosenthal (I presume).

And in fact this post will be dedicated to the white Cassis produced by Domaine du Bagnol, which I just bought for a customer and tasted this afternoon and was really impressed. 

Domaine du Bagnol Cassis Provence

Domaine du Bagnol is located in Cassis, a quaint little port facing the Mediterranean sea, situated about 26 kilometers east of Marseille in the French Departement of the “Bouches du Rhône” in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, southern France.

A popular tourist destination to escape crowded Marseille, Cassis is one of the most picturesque seaside towns in France, sitting in a naturally curved Amphitheatre formed by the coastline below the Cap Canaille, which encompasses one of the highest maritime cliffs in Europe culminating at 399 meters above sea level.

As a result, Cassis has always been famous for its cliffs (or “falaises” in French) and its sheltered, roughly chiseled, yet beautiful creeks called “Calanque”, which are prized by the Jet Set for their quite and often inaccessible beach of pristine turquoise waters where costly yachts are often anchored, all along the coastline between Cassis and Marseille.

Provence wines in general, are mainly rosé, bit of whites and tiny production of red, except in Bandol. Cassis produces mainly whites, bit of rosés and rare reds. The wines are usually crafted and often combined with 2 or 3 grape varieties together, like Marsanne, Clairette, Bourboulenc (locally known as Doucillon Blanc), pascal, Sauvignon Blanc and Ugni Blanc for the whites, and Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Grenache for the Rosés and Reds. Recognized in May 1936, Cassis was one of the first appellations of the AOC system due to the high quality of its wines.

Cassis should not to be confused with “Crème de Cassis”, a liquor specialty of the Burgundy region, which takes its name from Blackcurrant (called “Cassis” in French), hence a dark sweet, syrupy liquor made from the Cassis fruit not from the commune.

Wine production in Cassis has been recorded as far back as 1200 AD, yet more closely, Domaine du Bagnol has roots in history going back to 1867, when it belonged then to the Marquis de Fesque. It has since always played an active part in the reputation and notoriety of the local wines. Recently the Domaine passed from the hand of the Lefevre family to those of Sebastien and Jean Louis Genovesi, who clearly reestablished the fame of this estate, producing extremely aromatic, fresh, voluptuous wines from their 6 hectares of vines sharing this arid, rocky ground bordering the sea with countless garrigues bushes and calcareous limestone rolling hills and cliffs.   

(Better Picture to come soon, check their Facebook site at Domaine de Bagnol or watch a quick 360 tour of the Domaine at

2009 Domaine du Bagnol Cassis White Provence France
Suggested retail price $22-$25
Imported / distributed by Madrose / Rosenthal in NYC

A blend of roughly 50% Marsanne, 35% Clairette and 15% Ugni Blanc, the 2009 Domaine du Bagnol Cassis white offers notes of the sea breeze that contributed to the perfect ripeness of the grapes, and in the mean time, gives expression to the intense minerality that comes from the white stone cliffs that provide background to these vineyards. The fresh mid-palate possesses a gracious, ample and silky, coating texture enhanced by beautiful, focused acidity and generous yellow fruit flavors, unripe white peach, touch of apple and zesty, lemon peel notes. The finish is racy, polished, intense and long, almost oily and really satisfying and enticing with loads of minerality and citrus hints. What a wine!  The perfect accompaniment to freshly caught fish by the fishermen of Cassis. Definitely one of my favorite wines of the summer yet. Highly recommended.


LeDom du Vin

Info partly taken from the importer website at (unfortunately, I was unable to find a website for this winery).

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