The vineyards of Chateau de Pibarnon create a natural amphitheatre, sitting atop La Colline du Télégraphe at a height of 300m, staring directly out at the sparkling Mediterranean bay of La Ciotat. This is one of the few terroirs that can ripen and sculpt the surly Mourvèdre into the kind of fine, supple and fragrant wine that Pibarnon is famous for.
We’re not entirely sure who coined the phrase ‘The Petrus of Bandol’, but it does give you an idea of the high reputation this Estate holds amongst its peers. The brutish, muscular and tannic norm of many Bandols gives way here to a perfumed, refined and altogether more elegant manifestation. In this storied region, Pibarnon rouge has something of a cult following and counts the leading French wine critics amongst its passionate admirers. It’s not easy to pinpoint exactly what makes this particular Bandol, made by Eric de Saint Victor, so distinctive. There are many factors. There’s the lofty elevation of the Pibarnon vineyard, which allows for a longer, slow ripening period, and there is the unique, ancient fossil-rich limestone, clay and blue marl soils that bring a seamless web of tannins into play. The high level of Mourvèdre is another major difference, with most Bandol reds having much more Grenache in the blends. Whatever the reasons, this is a ravishing, unique wine and should be counted among the very best in Southern France.
A sophisticated, silky and textural Bandol that is in surprisingly approachable shape for its age. This is a rich and accessible wine that shows all the typical, dark-toned and juicy qualities of a Mourvèdre-driven red. This wine feels like it could age for many more years – chiefly thanks to its high acidity. Most likely it will be peaking at around 8-10 years of age and then keeping good for a great deal of years more.