Bandol-- the Hard Way

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Jean-Marc Espinasse stood overlooking his day-old Bandol vineyard with an expression somewhere between exhaustion and bliss.

"It's been a fantasy for me to be here," said Espinasse on his hillside in coastal Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer, surrounded by olive trees, pine forest, sea views and 2,000 stubs of grafted Mourvèdre vinestock in an acre of freshly turned clay.

It was Sunday, a day of rest for the 47-year-old Marseille native and former Rhône winemaker (see our previous blog on him) who sold his Domaine Rouge-Bleu in 2012 to do Bandol the hard way. The day before, he and a team that included friends and his 19-year-old son planted the first vines at his Mas des Brun property—working from dawn and finishing under car headlights. This followed a year of clearing trees, removing boulders and preparing soils.

Starting an estate from scratch has become rare around here. Sure, every few years someone decides to make their own wine instead of selling grapes to a local co-op. But this is different. The Bandol appellation producers' association—with more than 50 wine producers in eight historic winegrowing communes west of Toulon—can't pinpoint the last domaine started from nothing.

If all goes as planned, Espinasse will plant a total of 8 acres of Mourvèdre and Cinsault by 2018….Read full blog at Wine Spectator