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Chateau de Pibarnon

Chateau de Pibarnon

Organic, Mountain Bandol from the Appellation’s Highest Vineyard

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. 

Region

Provence, France

Wine Maker

Eric de Saint Victor & Marie Laroze

“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

What They Are Saying

“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

“The wines are gorgeous and offer classic examples of the appellation…These are classic Bandols that should not be missed!” The Wine Advocate

Chateau de Pibarnon

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