Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mystery Grape

100-year-old Foudres of Clos Cibonne
Continuing the theme of heat-worthy sipping, a 2010 esoteric pink by Clos Cibonne was highly recommended by a local fine wine shop.  It's 90% Tibouren which has been aged over a year in large oak foudres under a thin layer of yeasty "florette."  Come again? That's correct.  And it costs more than many Provence rosés.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely.

Not only is Tibouren an ancient, little-used grape, it's finicky with a relatively short life expectancy for the vines. It generally doesn't age well.  So why bother?  Because in the right hands, in the right location it's elegant, aromatic, and beautiful to look upon. 

Clos Cibonne is one of only 18 Cru Classé vineyards in the Côte de Provence region in Southern France.  It sits near the Mediterranean coast in a protected "bowl."  Brigitte and Claude Deforge took over the property in 2003 and have made it their goal to honor the tradition of this unique provenҫal grape. 

The hue is an arresting pale salmon with huge aromatics of orange zest, lavender and spice.  The orange notes continue with the first sip, but take on more bitter orange and wild strawberry flavors.  A background of clove and dried apricot lingers.  While this is surely an excellent food pairing wine, such as with a classic Salade Niҫoise, it is captivating by itself... especially in the presence of palm trees.