2018 Clos Cibonne, Tibouren, Cuvée Spéciale des Vignettes, Côtes de Provence Rosé, Cru Classe, Provence, France.
As I’ve said many times, the Clos Cibonne Côtes de Provence Rosé is not only one of the most iconic Rosé wines, it is one of the world’s great wines, it is singular and distinct as any wines I’ve ever tasted showing the influence of the region, the varietal character of this ancient and rare grape (Tibouren) and the winery’s very unusual stylistic charm, it is a wine that marries the past and future to perfection. Clos Cibonne, owned by Bridget Roux and her husband, Claude Deforge, is only about 800 meters from the beautiful blue Mediterranean sea, set in a natural amphitheater that allows for wonderful ripening and with a unique constant air flow through the vines that keeps all the clusters wonderfully healthy. Like many Provence wineries, after Phylloxera, as planted mostly to Mourvedre as many historic grapes were almost forgotten, but Bridget’s grandfather André Roux, who ran the estate back from the 1930s to after WWII, was a great fan of Tibouren and believed it to be the ideal grape for the region and re-planted it on the estate, and the world is a better place for this courage and act of faith! Clos Cibonne soon became synonymous with Tibouren, which also led the A.O.C. to give special permission for the winery to list the grape on its labels. Tibouren, or Rossese di Dolceacqua as it is called in Italy, is mainly known as a red French variety that is primarily grown in Provence and in Liguria, on the Italian Riviera, but most likely originated in Greece. It is a pale red grape that deserves wider study, I hope we see more plantings in Provence as well in California, where I’m sure it could find a geeky niche!

Clos Cibonne’s Cuvée Spéciale des Vignettes Côtes de Provence Rosé, a reserve style bottling that is sourced only from the estate’s oldest vines, which is completely unique wine, the Tibouren, after harvest is fermented in stainless steel and then aged Sur Lie under fleurette (a thin veil of yeast “Flor” like is found in Sherry) in 100-year-old, 500L foudres, large oak casks which adds a touch of oxidation, as well as a textured mouth feel and stabilizes the wine allow it to age way beyond what a normal Rosé. Grown on schist soils from 60 plus year old vines at 50 meters above sea level the Clos Cibonne Cuvée Spéciale des Vignettes comes from a single parcel known as Le Pradet and farmed all organic. The orange/pinkish Cuvée Spéciale des Vignettes was aged in cask on the lees for a full year making the palate a rich array of flavors of complex fruit, both a touch dried as well as vibrant layers with a mature poise that excites the senses. This 2018 is a thrill ride, one of the best vintages I can remember adding some savory elements, delicately earthy with a touch of pecan oil and saline too that accents the core tangy cherry, grilled Moro orange, reduced strawberry, peach flesh and seeped currant along with wet rock, herbs and rosewater. This Cuvée Spéciale des Vignettes Côtes de Provence Rosé is dry, vinous and serious stuff that requires your full attention, rather than a frivolous Summer sipper, it is not only for thoughtful cuisine it is also a Rosé that can age remarkably well, even for a decade, you’ll want to plan a meal around this joyous stuff.
($35 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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