August 29, 2013
Clos Cibonne: Cru Classé Côtes de Provence Rosé
Le Pradet, home to Clos Cibonne
There’s probably nowhere else on earth where the wine production focuses as much on rosé as France’s Provence. Historical records suggest that modern dry rosé production dates back to 600 BC, when the Greeks first brought wine culture to the area. These are some of France’s oldest vineyards, and the physical environment of Provence – with its plentiful sunshine; its mistral winds; its Mediterranean Basin soils; and its hillsides covered with wild lavender, rosemary, and thyme – is reflected in the refreshingly vibrant and zesty tart, red fruit aromas of the rosé wines made there.
Most rosés within the Côtes de Provence AC are produced with the classic blend that typically includes some combination of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. Clos Cibonne, among the ranks of historic Provence producers, is one that has made its reputation on the rare local variety Tibouren. Tibouren became the focus when André Roux brought the estate to prominence and replanted existing Mourvèdre vines with the Tibouren grape in the early part of the 20th century. Tibouren is a grape variety known as much for producing earthy, aromatic roses as it is for its sensitivity and irregular yields. Clos Cibonne’s 15 hectares of schist soil and the location of the vines, in a sunken plot of earth surrounded by hills, allows the Tibouren vines to take advantage of a wind pattern to cool them, providing relief from the scorching Provencal sun.
The historic Domaine of Clos Cibonne is additionally distinguished for making rosés aged an additional year under a veil of surface yeast called “fleurette.” Similar to the long-aged rosés of Rioja’s Lopez de Heredia, the wines of Clos Cibonne are at once savory and spicy, with a silken mouthfeel that is unique and, for many, transcendent of the Côtes de Provence Rosé category. Clos Cibonne is currently owned and run by the family’s third generation, André Roux’s granddaughter, Brigitte and her husband, Claude Deforge.
Clos Cibonne, 800 meters from the Meditteranean, lies on the coast between Marseille and Nice
Clos Cibonne Tibouren Provence Rose Tradition 2011 ($27) $21.90 special
Stephen Tanzer 92pts “Pale orange. Fresh cherry, potpourri and blood orange on the deeply scented nose. Supple and expansive on the palate, offering pliant red fruit preserve and succulent herb flavors brightened by chalky minerality. Becomes more tangy and floral with air and finishes with excellent clarity and sappy persistence. This rose has the power of a lighter red wine.”
Clos Cibourenne Tibouren Provence Rose Vignette 2011 ($32) $27 special
Stephen Tanzer 93pts “Bright orange-pink. Smoky, spice-accented aromas of redcurrant, cherry and blood orange, plus a hint of floral oils. Chewy, penetrating and expansive on the palate, offering intense dried red fruit and citrus pith flavors that gain sweetness with air. Concentrated but energetic as well, which bodes well for food-matching. Shows superb focus and length on the tactile, red fruit-dominated finish.”