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Château de Pibarnon: Benchmark, Organic Bandol Rouge & Rosé—Plus Rare Museum Releases

Château de Pibarnon: Benchmark, Organic Bandol Rouge & Rosé—Plus Rare Museum Releases

View the full available range from Château de Pibarnon here.

“Having understood perfectly the soul of this exceptional terroir, Henri de Saint-Victor completely remade Chateau de Pibarnon and in doing so created a grand classic in Bandol, with a profundity and balance without equal in Provence... [The Pibarnon] Rosé is unfailingly one of the most savoury in Provence.” Bettane and Desseauve’s Guide to the Wines of France

“Run by Eric de Saint Victor, who is aided by assistant winemaker Marie Laroze, Chateau de Pibarnon fashions some of the top wines from this incredible appellation. Any reader wanting to taste the best expression of Bandol should get on this estate’s bandwagon, as the price has yet to catch up to the quality.” Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

Never one to shy away from an opinion, it doesn’t take a lot to get Eric de Saint-Victor fired up. We recently put it to Mr Saint-Victor that, despite the warmer seasons on record, we had observed a marked trajectory in the elegance and purity of his young reds. Saint-Victor was glad we had noticed. With characteristic animation, he explained that he and his young team are obsessed with finesse and energy and are exploring every detail in the vineyards in pursuit of this aim. The importance of Pibarnon’s high-altitude, late-ripening, rocky vineyard and deep-rooted vines is a given. More so, the domaine’s field grafting program using massale selections is beginning to show its hand: the yields are lower, but the fruit is ever purer and more vibrant.

He also credits working with some new barrel suppliers—including large ovals from Stockinger and Mittelburger in the Tyrol—with delivering more focus to his fruit and finer, rounder tannins. Although Eric runs the show, there’s a bit of a dream team in place driving this grower’s already fabulous wines to greater heights. Under the young chef de culture Éric Schladenhaufen, the multifaceted vineyard management is progressing at a rate of knots. Organic since 2006, certification has been in place since 2019, and elements of biodynamic viticulture (preparations, biodynamic composts and herbal teas) are now integrated into the program. In the cellar—working only with wild yeasts, low sulphur and micro-batching based on terroir—Burgundian-born and influenced cellarmaster Marie Laroze continues to eke out ever more grace and clarity from Pibarnon’s healthy mountain Mourvèdre vines. Big wheels keep on turning.

In terms of the new releases, from a cool, low-yielding year (try 30 hl/ha on for size), the 2021 rosé is a knockout: an  umami-fuelled and mineral Pibarnon that, once again, reminds us of how serious a great, savoury rosé can be. The Bandol Rouge from 2020 (and similarly low cropped) is a wonderfully intense and detailed release; a case study for the individuality of Pibarnon’s slow-ripening highland terroir and a culture that results in this distinctively elegant, ‘mountain’ style of Bandol.

We’re also delighted to offer a small parcel of the domaine’s museum releases. Mature Bandol from this address is a thing of beauty. Slow to evolve, the reds start to show their beguiling silky charms and deep-set savoury complexity ten years after the harvest. If Neal Martin’s evaluation of the 2007 is anything to go by, these wines will be doling out pleasure for the few who will get to try them.

The Wines

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