You might have seen this domaine’s name before – it is regularly spotted on the winelists of some of the finest Michelin-starred restaurants around the world. How the domaine came about is quite the story.
After tasting a 1975 Château de Pibarnon Rouge, Henri and Catherine de Saint Victor decided that a visit to its source was in order. The view from the estate, which sits 300 meters above the Mediterranean, was nothing but astonishing. Hearing that the old man was growing weary from the hard life of farming the stony and dry environment, a thought entered their minds. “If you do not like the harsh life, we are interested…” The rest is history, and in November of 1978 they became the proud owners of the domaine.
Having no knowledge of winemaking, the couple tried to extract the secrets from the previous owner, but he remained mysterious. He died the following year, taking his magic formula with him. The secret was soon found – in the soil. Unlike the rest of Provence, the soils dated from the Triassic period – 150 million years older than any other domaines in Provence! The chalky and limestone qualities and the altitude of the vineyards strike a perfect balance between soil and climate, giving the wines a velvety elegance.
Mouvèdre is the star of the show at Pibarnon. The majority of the estate’s 30 hectares focused on red is Mouvèdre, with only 5% Grenache planted. On average, the vines are 35 years old, producing low, concentrated yields. Other varietals include Cinsaut (used in the Pibarnon Rosé), as well as Clairette and Bourbelenc which is used in the Pibarnon White. The quality of their Mouvèdre when aged often takes on a character easily mistaken as a Bordeaux (but without the price tag). The potential longevity of their Rosé is also not to be underestimated.
Eric, Henri and Catherine’s son, has now taken over from his father. The estate now boasts about 50 hectares under vine, and is recognised worldwide as a wine of distinction.
“While most 2012s from the region are slightly superficial and charming, Pibarnon’s 2012 Bandol Rouge has real depth and density, as well as fabulous notes of garrigue, toasted spices, dried Provencal herbs, and sweet red and black fruits. It has present tannin, yet they’re polished and nicely integrated into the wine, and while this beauty will have 15 years of more of overall longevity, it’s already hard to resist today. The blend of the 2012 is 92% Mourvèdre and 8% Grenache, all of which saw an extended maceration and 18-20 months in larger foudres. This is a fabulous Bandol that readers should seek out!” – Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate