2019 Clos Cibonne, Tibouren, Cotes de Provence Rosé, Cru Classe AOP, Cuvée Tradition, Provence, France.
The 2019 seemed a long time coming and I’ve been waiting very impatiently for its arrival, but as always with Clos Cibonne it did not disappoint and again sets the standard for dry pink wines, and it still is one of the great values too, with this vintage showing remarkable textural quality, surprising fresh clarity of detail, brilliant mineral tones and a maturity of fruit that set this wine apart from almost any other Rosé. This year’s version continues to show a trademark mouth watering saline stony element that accents the core tangy cherry, grilled Moro orange, reduced strawberry, peach flesh and seeped earthy currant along with wet steel, wild herbs and rosewater, along with a slight hint of almonds and delicate florals. This wine drinks with a impactful density and has a rewarding mouth feel like medium bodied Burgundy, but with its own array of flavors and complexity, while refreshing and energetic this is no regular aperitif style Rosé, this is a full meal wine that demands your full attention. Someone was laughing at my long verbose writings about Rosé wines, but you’ll understand the depth and thrill, only after experiencing Clos Cibonne and or a few others, these are wines to full appreciate and it takes a few words to try and explain them, with this vintage being a great place to start. The pale orangy/pink hued Cuvée Tradition is the normal Tibouren Cotes de Provence Cru Class AOP bottling by Clos Cibonne, but it is anything but basic, with the Tibouren grapes, plus about 10% Grenache, being fermented in stainless steel and then aged Sur Lie under fleurette (a thin veil of yeast “Flor” like is found in Sherry) in 120-year-old, 5,000L 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. The Clos Cibonne vines, goblet-trained tibouren, are organically grown on schist soils from parcels as old as 60 years old vines at just 50 meters above sea level. The notes that Tibouren is a very fine, thin-skinned grape which requires a lot of ventilation to be successful, adding that it needs to grow close to the ocean, with lots of ventilation to be successful, which Clos Cibonne provides along with a constant Mistral wind and air flow blowing through the vines here on the blue Mediterranean Sea.
The Clos Cibonne Côtes de Provence Rosé offerings are not only some of the most iconic Rosé wines, they are some of the world’s great wines period, as I’ve said before, the Rosé is vinous, 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 winemaking and stylistic charm. As mentioned in prior reviews, 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, and it is interesting to note that the legendary Randall Grahm, formerly of Bonny Doon, has started planting Tibouren and Rossese clones here in California and made his first Rosé with a percentage of Tibouren in it and it was lovely stuff, highlighting the potential of this varietal over here! In recent times, fifth-generation winemaker Olivier Deforges is both vineyard manager and winemaker here at Clos Cibonne and has even taken the estate to new heights of quality. Olivier, as the winery explains, has focused most his energy on the impeccable viticulture done here, after transitioning to all organic viticulture over the last decade, they are now officially certified organic since this 2019 vintage. To allow Summer to begin, I suggest you do as I do, celebrate with some old school Provence Rosé, like Domaine Tempier, Pradeaux and Gros Nore from Bandol, as well as this fabulous Clos Cibonne!
($38 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive