Long time no see, internet. Who knew parenting would eat up my wine writing hobby? Well, mommy and daddy could use a drink.
The summer sun demands chilled wines. So let us dip a toe into sunny Provence with a rare grape: Tibouren. The vine likely originates from Greece, possibly the Middle East, and it is tricky, subject to coulure, so consistent heat is key. Intense aromas and earthiness push it into a blending grape and rosés. Thus, today, mainly small plots in Provence and Liguria grow Tibouren.
Lucky for us, winery Clos Cibonne lives and breaths Tibouren. The estate is a bowl shaped 37 acres (15 hectares) of vineyards that face the Med only 800 meters away. The Roux Family bought the it in 1797, and in 1930, André Roux modernized the winery and made Tibouren rosé its core. Out went Mourvèdre, in went Tibouren. Fame came. But the winery slipped in the 1980s, and by the late 1990s Bridget, André’s granddaughter, and her husband, Claude Deforge, took it over, renovated but kept the old foudres. They returned Clos Cibonne to one of the 18 Cru Classés in Côtes de Provence.
We could try their classic rosé, or red, but I splurge on their $32 2016 Cuvée Spéciale des Vignettes: the estate’s oldest vines.
What makes Cibonne even more special, post harvest, they ferment the wines in stainless steel and then age it under fleurette (a thin veil of yeast) in 100-year-old, 500L foudres. Let us see what old vine Tibouren tamed by these methods tastes like:
The APPEARANCE looks a crystal clear peach.
Big AROMAS smell of golden raisins, Turkish delight, dried chamomile, strawberry pith, vanilla wafers
The PALATE feels dry, with medium plus acidity, light tannins, a sneaky warm medium alcohol, medium bodied, silky with a light powder.
FLAVORS glow with Silk Road spices and exotica: white fig, orange peel, underripe strawberry, cardamon seed, brine, ending in a medium plus long finish of pebbles, a light paper machee, and dried oak.
So, um, well, wow! Cibonne’s old vine Tibouron rosé is outstanding wine (5 of 5). It is filigreed with complexity, asks for your attention, casually, with a great but not overwhelming intensity.