2022 Clos Cibonne, Côtes de Provence Rosé "Tradition"
2022 Clos Cibonne, Côtes de Provence Rosé "Tradition"

2022 Clos Cibonne, Côtes de Provence Rosé "Tradition"

Provence, France 2022 (750mL)
Regular price$50.00

2022 Clos Cibonne, Côtes de Provence Rosé "Tradition"

Clos Cibonne and the late André Roux are almost single-handedly responsible for preserving and popularizing the local Tibouren grape, so much so that their names appear under the Tibouren entry in Jancis Robinson’s definitive tome, Wine Grapes. “Tradition” is the estate’s flagship rosé—or rather, their flagship wine: 90% Tibouren and 10% Grenache (to comply with the Côtes de Provence AOC rules) aged in 100-year-old oak casks...all grown and made less than 800 meters from the Mediterranean Sea. Add those numbers up and they equal a wine unlike any other—fresh, nutty, savory, deep, and wildly expressive. The gorgeous label from the 1930s speaks to the wine’s timelessness and inimitable style, and as anyone who’s tried this wine will enthusiastically attest, its utility extends way beyond summer sipping by the pool. It not only is the rare rosé that improves with age—that is designed to age—but is a true gastronomic chameleon as well. 

The story of Clos Cibonne begins in 1797 when the Roux family purchased it from Louis the XVI’s Captain of Royal Marines. Many years later, it was André Roux’s efforts to modernize the winery in the 1930s that ushered in the estate’s golden era. But, after André’s passing, the winery drifted into anonymity and disrepair until Brigitte, Roux’s granddaughter, took the helm in the 1980s. She and husband Claude Deforge have worked tirelessly to return the estate to its initial grandeur. They kept André’s hand-drawn label, modernized the stainless steel fermentation tanks, but kept the ancient casks exactly the same. Most importantly, they preserved the old-vine Tibouren vineyards that her grandfather had so painstakingly planted and championed. Tibouren is an infamously tricky variety to grow and so was deliberately “left behind” at the height of the phylloxera scourge, but André Roux was steadfast in his devotion to the grape: Today most of the centenarian vines on property are thriving on their original, ungrafted rootstock. All farming is organic although Clos Cibonne does not pay for certification, a feat considering Tibouren’s predisposition to disease. As for why it thrives at their estate? André always said that Tibouren was healthiest if it could see the sea. 

Each Clos Cibonne rosé is made in the same style, but sourced from different vines. “Tradition” is made from slightly younger vines and has more delicacy of color and flavor as a result. They are planted on calcareous soils, speckled with sea salt in the evenings as the breeze lifts off the Mediterranean. The afternoon wind brings welcome respite from the Provençal sun, which will sunburn grapes just as easily as it does tourists’ foreheads. Still, Tibouren ripens unevenly. In the eyes of Brigitte and Claude, this is an integral part of Clos Cibonne’s flavor profile. Underripe grapes are purposefully added to the press to lend a little spice and acidity to the otherwise deep purple, thin-skinned variety. The wine is fermented in stainless steel before aging in 100-year-old, 1,000-litre foudres for 12-18 months. 

Swirling this pink-gold beauty around in the glass conjures irresistible daydreams of summer vacation, but one taste confirms it transcends seasons. Every vintage tells a new story about the complexity of this property so that its iconic flavor profile never becomes predictable. The 2022 “Tradition” is beguiling, just starting to blossom into maturity. Tibouren needs cellaring to unfurl its complex flavors and textural weight; you’ll understand the second the savory, spicy aromas rise out of the glass. The initial hit of wild strawberries on the nose is carefully balanced by sea salt, herbs, and mandarin. It’s fresh and sappy despite the lingering nuttiness from those old casks—just the right amount! The palate is all cream, rhubarb, rosewater, and mouthwatering minerals. The lightest touch of phenolic bitterness seems to turn the volume up on all the other flavors and before you know it, an entire afternoon—and several bottles—have disappeared. 

Serve this rosé cool, not ice-cold—50 ish degrees should do it—and uncork the bottle 15 minutes before pouring into all-purpose glasses. I like rich, umami-heavy nigiri or sashimi with this wine: fatty tuna belly, uni, eel, salmon. Add a hot basket of spring-vegetable tempura and you’re good to go. Keep in mind that this rosé has the structure to be drinking well over the next five years, and certainly over the next five months of warm weather. I’m confident Clos Cibonne will be on heavy rotation this year—get it while it lasts! 

2022 Clos Cibonne, Côtes de Provence Rosé "Tradition"

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