2022 Château de Pibarnon Bandol Rosé

Save an extra $12: $1,199.88 for 12 bottles
The Collective Review

Each of these wines hail from a portion of mature vines grown in Pibarnon’s unique terroir, a stunning amphitheatre of terraces, or restanques, set amid the pine-covered hilltops of La Colline du Télégraphe.

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Technical Attributes
Tasting Notes

Classic red berry, wild garrigue, some light spice and fruit tea notes are complemented by savoury tones. In the Pibarnon mould, it’s a vinous, mouth-filling and broad-shouldered rosé, with a fleshy, citrus-infused texture underpinned by grapefruity grip, precise acidity, touches of iodine-spiked minerality and amaro bitters. The finish is pure and detailed with plenty of airy, thirst-quenching length. A true classic.

Winemakers Note

For the winemaking, the Cinsault component is pressed directly to tank, and brings elegance, perfume and balance, while the Mourvèdre is bled, saignée-style, after several hours of skin contact; bringing vibrancy, complexity and chalky structure. Blending occurred before a wild yeast ferment. The wine was raised exclusively in tank for six months.

The vineyards of Château de Pibarnon create a natural amphitheatre, sitting atop La Colline du Télégraphe at a height of 300m facing directly out to the sparkling Mediterranean bay of La Ciotat. This is Bandol’s highest vineyard, and it enjoys the freshness and cool nights provided by the altitude, as well as the moderating sea breezes. It’s not only the elevation and proximity to the sea that makes this vineyard so special. A peculiar soil type predominates, les marnes bleues; this uncommon and highly chalky, blue-tinted clay, rich in microfossils, is also sometimes encountered in the Jura and Pomerol where it is prized for its low pH, water-retentive properties, and its influence on a wine’s freshness and structure.

We’re not entirely sure who coined the phrase ‘The Petrus of Bandol’, but it does give you an idea of the high reputation this Estate holds amongst its peers. The brutish, muscular and tannic norm of many Bandols gives way here to a perfumed, refined and altogether more elegant manifestation. In this storied region, Pibarnon Rouge has something of a cult following and counts the leading French wine critics amongst its passionate admirers. It’s not easy to pinpoint exactly what makes this particular Bandol so distinctive. There are many factors. There’s the lofty elevation of the Pibarnon vineyard, which allows for a long, slow ripening period; and there is the unique, ancient fossil-rich limestone, clay and blue marl soils that bring a seamless web of tannins into play. The high level of Mourvèdre is another major difference, with most Bandol reds having much more Grenache in the blends.

Each of these wines hail from a portion of mature vines grown in Pibarnon’s unique terroir, a stunning amphitheatre of terraces, or restanques, set amid the pine-covered hilltops of La Colline du Télégraphe.

Of course, the certified organic—and now biodynamic—viticulture, and the careful, minimal winemaking helps as well. The approach in the cellar includes wild yeast fermentation, neutral, large-format oak and amphora vessels for fermentation and aging, and minimal sulphur usage. These factors (terroir and culture) result in a distinctively elegant style of Bandol, one that has tamed the rusticity that Mourvèdre is certainly capable of producing, especially in lower-lying postcodes.

Of course, no tale of this producer is complete without mention of its benchmark Bandol rosé. Lovers of dry rosé look to Bandol as their Holy Grail. Culled from old vines and low yields, this rosé’s artisanal production accounts for one reason why Pibarnon’s Mourvèdre-dominant model is universally regarded in the top percentile of its class (to put it bluntly, if you want the very best you’ve only got a couple of choices—and this is one of them). If you have ever wondered what all the fuss is about when it comes to Bandol rosé, and why it is so much more expensive than other rosé styles, here is the wine that has all the answers. 

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