May 14, 2010 Château de Pibarnon
Château de Pibarnon Rosé
A perfect wine for Mother’s Day. Rosé in lieu of roses? We spend the first several minutes trying to describe the colour of this wine. Peach? Copper? Metallic orange-pink? A summer sunset? An exotic melon? The colour is extraordinary and alone seems worth the price of the bottle.
The day is all about colour, perhaps because outside the weather is rather dull. Projecting into the North Atlantic as it does, Newfoundland is not noted for its spring. The season arrives in fits and starts, one day reasonable, the next reverting to near winter temperatures. In wine-drinking at least I can force the season a little, bring on a summer wine, set it indoors against a stalk of mauve daphne and tulips eager to reveal their colour-saturated centres.
Or next to a bowl of our older son’s delectable lobster chowder, which he has laboured over for several hours. Even the burnt-sugar shine on the ‘cannelé’ (a pastry from the south-west region of France that we attempted with surprisingly good success) seems to add to the colourful meal.
But what is the tint of that rosé?
Château de Pibarnon Rosé 2007
Perhaps transparent onion skin where it turns colour between the outside and inside layers… Let’s just drink the wine. It is crisp, layered with a very pleasing fruit acidity. The melon/grapefruit detected in the nose follows through on the palate. It is all light and fresh, and dry. An entirely pleasant, stylish wine. A smashing wine to be holding if dressed in summer white! Just perfect for that hot day in May. (Dream on.) $
The Provençal estate of Château de Pibarnon sits on the wooded slopes of what is known as ‘la colline du Télégraphe,’ a hill so named because it was once the location of a station of the Toulon-Paris optical telegraph system. To the south is the city of Bandol and the coastal waters of the Mediterranean. There was little to be exited over until the property was purchased in 1977 by Comte Henri de St-Victor and his wife. They restored the house, a 13th-century bastide, to its former glory, and greatly increased the vineyard holdings. An amphitheatre of terraced vines – the Théatre d’Epidaure – sweeps down the limestone soils of the hill. Both in visual impact and in the quality of its wines, the estate is one of the most noteworthy in Provence, a treasure now passed down the family line to son Eric. (The man holding the grapes, so to speak.)
The signature wine is its much-praised red Bandol, 90%+ mouvèdre and avoiding new oak (bravo). But the rosé is also outstanding in its class. It is produced from young vines and by the saignée method. In the early stages of red wine fermentation, usually the second or third day after the grapes have been crushed, juice is bled off and allowed to ferment separately, the skins having been discarded. What gives the rosé of Château de Pibarnon its special characteristics? In a word — terroir. No surprise there.
A final note — unlike most rosés, Château de Pibarnon ages well. Apparently I could have easily kept it for another year, on the off chance that next Mother’s Day it could be drunk in blazing sunshine.
Oh, well. Too late.