Wines by Region / Provence / Bandol / Les Vignobles Gueissard
Les Vignobles Gueissard - Bandol
Sansary sur Mer, Var
After interning at Bandol producer Domaine Tempier for two years and then working as assistant winemaker for another three, Clement Minné and his partner Pauline Giraud decided to set out on their own. They began producing and releasing wines under their own label, enlisting the help of two friends, Philippe Barrère and Frederic Valette. These two friends would take care of the commercial side of the business (it’s one thing to make wine and another to sell it, right?). Clement began accumulating a number of parcels around the 8 communes that make up Bandol, naming the domaine Gueissard after one of their parcels.
Not having come from a wine family, Clement had no winery in which to make his wine, so he rented a warehouse space on the outskirts of Sanary-sur-Mer and set up shop. For an importer who has seen hundreds of classic French domaines out in the countryside with vines surrounding the property, it’s odd to see Gueissard headquarters in an industrial zone—something like the more recent-on-the-scene multitude of small California producers who make their wine in warehouses which 10 years earlier could have been used to warehouse mattresses or detail automobiles. As Clement showed us around, it was also a little shocking at first to hear him talk about one of his older vineyards while checking out an attractive couple frolicking in the pool of their villa next door. Clement explained with disdain that some of the older vineyards are being ripped up, only to be replaced with houses for the many tourists whose dream is to live here part time and soak up that little bit of Provençal sun.
But despite this unconventional vineyard and winery setting, you can’t help but be won over by Clement and Pauline and what they are doing at the Gueissard domaine. Soils in the region are limestone and sand, and the vines are largely protected from the Mistral winds by the Montagne Sainte-Victoire and Massif de la Sainte-Baume to the north and the Chaine de Saint-Cyr to the west. The major grape in Bandol is Mourvedre, the latest ripening and most structured of the Provencal varieties. Because of its thick skin, Mourvedre needs a long, warm growing season, and this mountainous, bowl-like protection combined with the warm winds coming from the nearby Mediterranean help give the grape nearly ideal conditions to ripen and eventually secrete its delicious fruit.
In 2015, Clement and Pauline bought out their partners and took on their chores. They also had a baby in 2016, which undoubtedly increased their workload and inspired them to move forward at a determined pace. In addition to Bandol, they also produce a range of Côtes de Provence wines in all three colors. As the domaine was started from nothing in 2010, they have had to work hard to acquire vineyard parcels and begin stitching together their holdings. The goal will be to work organically, but for the moment they are firmly in the sustainable camp, converting their vineyards little by little to organic viticulture. All grapes are harvested by hand in small boxes to avoid oxidation. After a gentle pressing, the wine is fermented in stainless-steel tanks. The red wines then go into a variety of oak barrels, some 225 liters, others 600 liters, and/or foudre. After an extended aging period, the reds are bottled with minimal filtration.
Les Vignobles Gueissard Côtes de Provence Blanc “Cuvée G”
70% Rolle (Vermentino), 15% Clairette and 15% Ugni Blanc, the wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks. This wine is light and crisp, with floral and citrus fruit notes, a waxy texture and clean, dry finish. Unlike many Provencal whites that can be rather innocuous, this is bright and full of delicious fruit!
Les Vignobles Gueissard Bandol Rosé “Cuvée G”
45% Mourvedre, 35% Cinsault and 20% Grenache, fermented and aged in stainless-steel tanks. The Grenache and Cinsault are fermented directly and pressed after several hours, while the Mourvedre is pressed directly. Pale peach-pink in color with aromas of tart strawberries. Subtle strawberry and grapefruit notes zip along to the dry, citrus zest finish. Manageable on its own, but paired with light snacks this turns into a refreshing summer patio pounder.
Les Vignobles Gueissard Bandol Rouge “Cuvée G”
(70% Mourvedre, 15% Cinsault, 15% Grenache. Indigenous yeasts only. Aged in 3,500-liter foudre and demi-muids (600-liter barrels) for 18 months. Expressive fruit includes cassis, cherry, blackcurrant and vanilla. Juicy with plenty of fruit and well-integrated tannins, this wine is serious but highly drinkable and also very long. Excellent!
Les Vignobles Gueissard Bandol Rouge “Cros du Loup”
80% Mourvedre, 20% Grenache, fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged in 600-liter demi-muids for 20 months. Made from old vines, this wine is rich and concentrated with wonderful spice, showing an impressive medley of dark fruits, blackcurrant and spice. Structured for the long run, it finishes with impressive length.