Cooking to the Wine: Domaine de L'Olivette Bandol with Herb Roasted Leg of Lamb and Saucy Mediterranean Veggies

Domaine de L'Olivette Bandol with Herb Roasted Leg of Lamb and Saucy Mediterranean Veggies.

I must confess to you all that I’m going a little stir crazy.
The rain has been pretty relentless in the Bay Area for the last few weeks. While it’s pretty typical for it to rain a lot in the winter here (and I know we need it), sometimes we get little breaks of lovely weather to provide periods of relief. That hasn’t been the case this year.

Even worse, I’ve had an annoying cold for the last weeks that refuses to leave me alone once and for all. I fully blame the weather for this obnoxious yoyo-ing effect. This cough is really not cute!

I’ve been trying to mentally escape as best I can. Whenever possible, I’ve been hiding out under the covers reading. Wendy over at A Day of Life on the Farm got a round of copies of Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence sponsored by Blue Vase Book Exchange.  to serve as inspiration for this month’s French Winophiles exploration of this region. While I’m only halfway through at this point, the book has been a pretty perfect mental vacay.

The truth is that from Mahle’s description, things are probably much bleaker in Provence around this time of year, with the famous Mistral wind pummeling the region. Admittedly, that’s probably way worse than the rain here. However, the difference is that I can move on in the book to enjoy months with more placid weather conditions. 

Mayle, who passed away last year, released his memoir about the first year he and his wife spent in Provence in 1989. The book rolls out an idiosyncratic cast of characters living, working, and most importantly to my mind, eating, against the backdrop of this famously beautiful region in the southeast corner of France. Via Mayle’s descriptions, you join him at the teeming tables of his neighbors, perhaps enjoying a rabbit stew and many, many sides. You stop into the local restaurants to meet the proprietors and maybe have some lamb after spending the morning at the market. There’s even a recipe for how to prepare fox, should you ever need one, volunteered by one of the more colorful locals. 

However, I’ve got to say that one of my favorite bits so far is the description of a child Mayhle meets at a restaurant, who “showing remarkable promise for a six-year-old gourmet, said he preferred this pâté to the one he ate at home, and asked his grandmother for a taste of her wine.” I want this to be my kid, should I ever have any. 

I haven’t had the chance to visit Provence yet, but my friend Molly got to up and move there last year, much as Mayle did, if only for a semester. I asked her to send me a few pics to help live vicariously through her experience. They don’t disappoint!

I opened a bottle of Bandol to help continue this imaginary journey. This small appellation is famous for its red wines, in a region that's usually recognized for its rosés. Bandol does also make rosé and white wines as well. Their reds put Mourvèdre in the starring role, resulting in rich, meaty wines, that are also often flecked with herbal notes – perfect for this time of year! Mourvèdre must make at least 50% of the blend, with Grenache and Cinsault in supporting roles, and Carignan and Syrah making cameo appearances – these last 2 can make up to 10% of the blend.

It’s not a coincidence that this is one of the only regions in France to shine the spotlight on Mourvèdre, along with neighboring Cassis. This grape likes to be warm and dry – that makes two of us! These sections of Provence are protected from the harsh, cold winds by mountains that surround and shield them: the Montagne Sainte-Victoire and the Massif de la Sainte-Baume are to the north, and the Chaîne de Saint-Cyr is to the west. The vines, therefore, stay warm and happy.

This location has served Mourvèdre well over the years. When phylloxera ravaged France in the 1880’s, it took down Mourvèdre in many of the areas it had been planted. However, Bandol has sandy soils, and the nasty louse hates sand; therefore, Mourvedre continues to make this area its main French residence.

Map courtesy of Wine Folly. 

It’s a thick-skinned grape and so tends to make wines with deep color and high tannin levels. Those mouth-drying tannins earned it the French nickname Etrangle-Chien (the dog strangler).

Mourvèdre has several aliases including Monastrell in Spain, and Mataro in Australia and sometimes in California. It’s becoming increasingly popular, so can expect to see more of it.
I've shared this pic from Molly's collection before, but it's just so evocative. 



I grabbed the Domaine de l'Olivette Bandol 2009 from our “cellar” (i.e. the wine racks in the guest bedroom) for this occasion.

Domaine de L'Olivette Bandol with Herb Roasted Leg of Lamb and Saucy Mediterranean Veggies.

The winery has been in Jean-Luc Dumoutier’s family for over 200 years. Originally, the family used the land to farm a variety of different things, including wheat and olives, as well as vines. They gradually transitioned increasingly to wine grapes over the year, particularly after the Bandol appellation was created in 1941 – that estate was a pioneer in the endeavor. Recent generations, Jean-Luc included, have worked to modernize the estate.

This wine really spoke to me of the place. It painted a picture that went along with the images described in the book. It had both hints of rusticity and elegance. It also showed flavors akin to those I associate with Provence in my imagination, like lots of bramble and garrigue.

On the day we opened this bottle we picked up notes on the nose of bruised strawberries alongside traces of darker berries, cassis, light licorice, and a smattering of mixed grilled herbs. On the palate, there were baked berries, light smoke, with savory hints of olives and that blend of grilled herbs. Greg also got hints of rhubarb and plum skin. We opened the bottle the night before we intended to drink it and these flavors all evolved with time and air, gaining tomato leaf and other savory notes in the mix.

It was medium in body; actually, it was a little lighter than I’d expected. There was a little bit of grip to the tannins, but they were pretty moderate. I’d guess they’d had a chance to ease up over time. There was a warmth to the alcohol on this wine, but it also had plenty of freshness.

This was a savory wine and we wanted a savory dish alongside it. I also wanted a dish that could bridge the wintry weather we have now and the warmer seasons I’m pining for. Lamb seemed like it would make a perfect match for the meaty smokiness of the wine. I decided to roast a boneless lamb leg seasoned with herbs and garlic. I tossed a mix of Mediterranean vegetables in the pan, along with some stewed and cherry tomatoes to cook along with it and get saucy – seemed only appropriate since an olivette is a type of tomato. To mirror the flavors of the olive in the wine, I added black olives and used their brine as a cooking liquid.

Finally, I tossed in whole, unpeeled cloves of garlic to roast and sweeten in the pan. They got nice and soft so that you could squeeze out their contents and spread it on the meat. I really liked this added bonus, but it is easy for them to get lost in the sauce. If this worries you, slice or crush garlic cloves and add them to the saucy vegetables during the last 20-30 minutes of cooking.

This was a seamless match with the flavors in the wine and food comingling as happily as could be. We thought it matched particularly well with bites that had olives, as the flavors matched deliciously well. Best of all, this is a complete one pan meal!

Domaine de L'Olivette Bandol with Herb Roasted Leg of Lamb and Saucy Mediterranean Veggies.


Gamey meats and stewed dishes are pretty classic pairings for Bandol. Wine Folly recommends spicing dishes with cumin and white pepper match to with Bandol.

Other big red wines from the south of France should match easily with this dish. I think this dish would also work well with Italian red like Chianti or a Barbera, but I just switch up the herbs to match their profile. Similarly, a Tempranillo such as a Rioja Reserva or a Ribera del Duero would work as well, but I might try spiking it with a little smoked paprika. 

Check out Good Luck Lentil Soup for another Provençal red wine pairing.
This 8 & 20 recipe for Braised Lamb Shanks and Lentil Stew was originally paired with a wine from Southern Rhône, but I think it would also be wonderful with a Bandol.


There aren’t many details available for this wine on their website, but they do mention Carignan and Grenache are in the mix. They manually harvest the grapes (which is required under the AOP regulations) and then sort twice to ensure the best quality grapes are used.  The recenlty updated winery has automated temperature controls. They use a variety of oak containers in different sizes in their program (casks 30 hl and 50 hl and half muits 500 liters) and adapted to the profiles of each wine.

They currently operate 55 hectares and are a member of the Vignerons Indépendants group, which set standards for its members based the values ​​of authenticity and respect for the terroir. They’re also farming sustainability, intervening only when needed, putting an emphasis on the biological fertility of the soil, and they have a High Environmental Value (HVE) certification.


Bandol prices can get up there, but the average price per bottle on across all vintages on this wine is $22. Wine Spectator has the original suggested retail price of the 2009 vintage at $28. Either way, I think was an Overachiever, since this wine delivered a lot of complexity and elegance at the price point. We really enjoyed this wine.

dinner, lamb, one pan
Mediterranean, roast
Mediterranean, French
Yield: 6 to 8Pin it

Herb Roasted Leg of Lamb and Saucy Mediterranean Vegetables

prep time: 15 minscook time: 55 minstotal time: 70 mins
Roasted leg of lamb with a mix of saucy vegetables makes a hearty one-pan meal.


  • 3.5 lb boneless leg of lamb, ideally remove from the fridge 30 minutes to 1 hour before cooking
  • 14 total garlic cloves, 4 peeled and minced, 10 unpeeled
  • 4 to 5 sprigs of thyme, ½ of it picked and chopped
  • 4 to 5 sprigs of rosemary, ½ of it picked and chopped
  • ½ cup pitted black olives, plus the olive brine
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 zucchini, cut into medium-sized chunks
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 lb cherry tomatoes
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Cooking twine


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Pat the lamb dry with paper towels and score the fat with a knife. Open up the lamb so to it lies as flat as possible, with the meat side facing you and the fat-side down. Season with salt and pepper, then distribute the minced garlic and the chopped thyme and rosemary over the lamb meat. Roll the lamb back up and tie with kitchen twine to secure. Season the outside of the lamb with salt and pepper. Lightly grease a roasting pan and place the lamb in the pan, and the pan in the oven.
  3. After 30 minutes, degalze the pan with the olive brine. Add in the olives, shallots, zucchini, cauliflower, season with salt and pepper, and add the sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Return to the oven and continue cooking for another 30 to 40 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of meat registers 130°F for medium-rare.
  4. Once the lamb reaches the desired temperature, remove the lamb from the pan, transfer to a cutting board and tent with aluminum foil. Allow the lamb to rest for another 10-15 minutes – the final cooking temerature will come up another few degrees as the meat rests. In the meantime, raise the temperature of the oven to 400°F, and add the diced and cherry tomatoes to the roasting pan to cook as the meat rests.
  5. When you’re ready to serve, remove the pan from the oven. Taste and adjust the seasoning of the sauce. Slice the lamb into rounds and serve with the saucy vegetables spooned on top.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Domaine de L'Olivette Bandol with Herb Roasted Leg of Lamb and Saucy Mediterranean Veggies.
Photo credit on all plated images with wine: Greg Hudson.

Here are a couple more of Molly's pics  . . . all in all, REALLY want to go.


This month's French Winophiles was sponsored by Blue Vase Book Exchange.  They provided some of our members with a copy of "A Year in Provence" by Peter Mayle. You can find Blue Vase Book Exchange on Amazon and on Facebook. 

Additional Sources used for this post and additional reading:
The Oxford Companion via
Vins de Bandol "20 Reasons to Visit Provence" 
The World Atlas of Wine, 7th Edition




  1. Can I just say how jealous I am that you have a wine cellar (spare bedroom) with a collection large enough to contain a hard to find bottle. Your lamb sounds perfect.

  2. Hope you recover from your cold soon. This is such a great blog that you highlighted what you liked about the book (sorry to hear the author passed), the terroir, characteristics of Mourvedre, your Bandol, your leg of lamb - great read!

    1. Thanks so much Pinny! Both for the feedback and the well wishes.

  3. Great article! I've never cooked a leg of lamb, but you've created inspiration.

  4. You friend Molly's pictures make me want to go too! The dish sounds delicious and I appreciate you providing thoughts on adjustments to pair with other wines!

    1. Thanks for the feedback Robin. Also, yeah, her pics really make me want to go as well!

  5. Wow! Your friend's photos transported me to Provence and well! Put a smile on my face. And a great pairing too Nicole!

    1. Thanks Martin! And yes, her pics are a great antidote to winter.

  6. Another delicious pairing! And those pictures are gorgeous.

  7. I have a super crush on Mourvèdre! This looks fantastic, and I'm craving this goodness now.


Thanks so much for leaving your comments and questions. I always love to hear from you!