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Château 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. 

Currently Available

Chateau De Pibarnon Marc 1993
Bibendum Bar

Chateau De Pibarnon Marc 1993

Individually packaged in a wooden box. Éric de Saint-Victor carries on his family's proud tradition of crafting an aged, artisanal Marc de Bandol from the appropriate years. Distilled using the 'méthode Bourguignonne', this exceptionally matured Marc is crafted from the pomace of pressed Mourvèdre grapes using a small, wood-fired copper still. Only the heart of the run is collected for ageing and each "pass" produces about 25 litres of spirit. Pibarnon then mature their Marc for a whopping 20 years in old 418-litre Armagnac casks made from that region's Chêne Rouvre oak.By the time the spirit is bottled (unfiltered), it has mellowed into an extraordinarily complex, deep and finely drawn liquid that coats the palate in complex flavours of raisin, plum and prunes, with a slight liquorice note. Opulently textured, very complex and with a very long, expansive finish that suggests both mixed dried fruits and all kinds of spices. I'm not sure that there is a great demand for aged Marc de Bandol, but this was just too good to pass on. And besides, it makes for a stunning nightcap.

By the time the spirit is bottled (unfiltered), it has mellowed into an extraordinarily complex, deep and finely drawn liquid that coats the palate in complex flavours of raisin, plum and prunes, with a slight liquorice note. Opulently textured, very complex and with a very long, expansive finish that suggests both mixed dried fruits and all kinds of spices. I'm not sure that there is a great demand for aged Marc de Bandol, but this was just too good to pass on. And besides, it makes for a stunning nightcap.

Chateau De Pibarnon Marc 1993
Bibendum Bar
Château de Pibarnon Bandol Rosé 2022

Château de Pibarnon Bandol Rosé 2022

Organic. Another cracking release, Pibarnon’s distinctive 65:35 Mourvèdre and Cinsault blend was drawn from the estate’s stunning amphitheatre of terraces (or restanques) set amid the pine-covered hilltop of La Colline du Télégraphe. This is Bandol’s highest vineyard (at 300 metres above the Baie de Bandol), and it enjoys freshness and cool nights from altitude and 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 encountered in the Jura and Pomerol, where it is prized for its low pH, water-retentive properties, and influence on a wine’s freshness and structure.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. The latter brings vibrancy, complexity and chalky structure. The juices were blended before spontaneous fermentation. In the Pibarnon mould, the new release is a typically 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.

“It displays aromas of pomegranate, citrus, spring flowers, iodine, jasmine and crushed stones, followed by a beautifully defined texture, a fleshy core of fruit and racy acids that underpin a delicate, well-delineated and calcareous finish. It's going to drink nicely in its youth, but I suspect it will also age gracefully over the next 2-5 years.”
93 points, Johan Castaing, The Wine Advocate
The 2022 Rosé is savoury and sweet with a rich blend of rosemary, sage and tomato leaf, giving way to dried cherries. It’s silky-smooth and round with a buzz of minerality and brisk acidity up front as ginger-spiked nectarine forms towards the close. This tapers off with a salty flourish. Spice and citrus notes keep the mouth watering.”
92 points, Eric Guido, Vinous
“A distinctive, beautifully harmonious rosé, with a pronounced dusting of fleur de sel over melon, red berry and plum flavors, all spiked by singed herbs and dried flowers. Boasts blood orange acidity that drives impressive length, building in concentration toward the finish. Offers abundant intrigue and pleasure, with just the right amount of richness.”
92 points, Kristen Bieler, Wine Spectator
Château de Pibarnon Bandol Rosé 2022
Château de Pibarnon Bandol Rouge 2007

Château de Pibarnon Bandol Rouge 2007

Organic. This is Pibarnon’s top wine, and one of the great ‘mountain Bandols’. It’s a blend of 90% Mourvèdre and 10% Grenache drawn from the estate’s high-altitude restanques. The altitude, the influence of the sea and the limestone/clay soils all bring a freshness and purity that is rare among Mediterranean reds. This cuvée is based only on the fruit of the oldest vines and finest terraces of Château de Pibarnon, including Bel-Air, La Grande Paguette, La Falaise, Les Pointes Blanches, Le Col and Les Dolmens. 

“Showing only modest signs of maturity on the rim, it has a gorgeous bouquet of ripe raspberries, hung game and that distinctive menthol note you often find with mature Mourvèdre. The palate is beautifully balanced and not a million miles away from a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, with its fleshy, corpulent body and its flavour profile of allspice, clove and wild fennel filtered through dark red brambly fruit. It is savory, almost gamy, toward the sensual and slightly bucolic finish. This 13-year-old Bandol is à point, although I envisage another decade of drinking pleasure, possibly more. A wine that’s impossible to not enjoy.”
93 points, Neal Martin, Vinous (tasted 2020)
Château de Pibarnon Bandol Rouge 2007
Château de Pibarnon Bandol Rosé 2022 (1500ml)

Château de Pibarnon Bandol Rosé 2022 (1500ml)

Organic. Another cracking release, Pibarnon’s distinctive 65:35 Mourvèdre and Cinsault blend was drawn from the estate’s stunning amphitheatre of terraces (or restanques) set amid the pine-covered hilltop of La Colline du Télégraphe. This is Bandol’s highest vineyard (at 300 metres above the Baie de Bandol), and it enjoys freshness and cool nights from altitude and 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 encountered in the Jura and Pomerol, where it is prized for its low pH, water-retentive properties, and influence on a wine’s freshness and structure.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. The latter brings vibrancy, complexity and chalky structure. The juices were blended before spontaneous fermentation. In the Pibarnon mould, the new release is a typically 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.

"It displays aromas of pomegranate, citrus, spring flowers, iodine, jasmine and crushed stones, followed by a beautifully defined texture, a fleshy core of fruit and racy acids that underpin a delicate, well-delineated and calcareous finish. It's going to drink nicely in its youth, but I suspect it will also age gracefully over the next 2-5 years."
93 points, Johan Castaing, The Wine Advocate
"The 2022 Rosé is savoury and sweet with a rich blend of rosemary, sage and tomato leaf, giving way to dried cherries. It’s silky-smooth and round with a buzz of minerality and brisk acidity up front as ginger-spiked nectarine forms towards the close. This tapers off with a salty flourish. Spice and citrus notes keep the mouth watering.”
92 points, Eric Guido, Vinous
“A distinctive, beautifully harmonious rosé, with a pronounced dusting of fleur de sel over melon, red berry and plum flavors, all spiked by singed herbs and dried flowers. Boasts blood orange acidity that drives impressive length, building in concentration toward the finish. Offers abundant intrigue and pleasure, with just the right amount of richness.”
92 points, Kristen Bieler, Wine Spectator
Château de Pibarnon Bandol Rosé 2022 (1500ml)
Château de Pibarnon Bandol Rouge 2011

Château de Pibarnon Bandol Rouge 2011

Organic. This is Pibarnon’s top wine, and one of the great ‘mountain Bandols’. It’s a blend of 90% Mourvèdre and 10% Grenache drawn from the estate’s high-altitude restanques. The altitude, the influence of the sea and the limestone/clay soils all bring a freshness and purity that is rare among Mediterranean reds. This cuvée is based only on the fruit of the oldest vines and finest terraces of Château de Pibarnon, including Bel-Air, La Grande Paguette, La Falaise, Les Pointes Blanches, Le Col and Les Dolmens. 

“Like the Restanque de Pibarnon, the 2011 Bandol Rouge shows the sunnier nature of the vintage with its sexy, layered personality. More elegant, seamless and polished, with slightly finer tannin, it offers up beautiful notes of black raspberries, currants, licorice and spice in a supple, medium to full-bodied, balanced, seamless style that will keep nicely for another decade at least.”
93 points, Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate (tasted 2016)
Château de Pibarnon Bandol Rouge 2011
Château de Pibarnon Bandol Rouge 2009

Château de Pibarnon Bandol Rouge 2009

Organic. This is Pibarnon’s top wine, and one of the great ‘mountain Bandols’. It’s a blend of 90% Mourvèdre and 10% Grenache drawn from the estate’s high-altitude restanques. The altitude, the influence of the sea and the limestone/clay soils all bring a freshness and purity that is rare among Mediterranean reds. This cuvée is based only on the fruit of the oldest vines and finest terraces of Château de Pibarnon, including Bel-Air, La Grande Paguette, La Falaise, Les Pointes Blanches, Le Col and Les Dolmens. 

“Another awesome wine is the 2009 Bandol, which is much more in the style of the exuberant, sexy 2011 than the cooler, serious 2010. Notes of salted meats, exotics spices, licorice, currants and plums all emerge from this deep, full-bodied, concentrated and sexy beauty. It has the fruit and texture to impress today, yet will cruise for another 10-15 years.”
94 points, Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate (tasted 2016)
Château de Pibarnon Bandol Rouge 2009
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“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

Country

France

Primary Region

Provence

People

Winemaker: Eric de Saint Victor & Marie Laroze

Availability

National

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