Wines to Seek Out
As noted above, Clos Cibonne was honored with a Cru Classé designation by the Côtes de Provence AOC in 1955. The estate's reputation is storied, but with the exception of the Tentations rosé, these are not your typical "modern" Provençal wines. The reliance on Tibouren is unique, but so is the aging process in cask for two of the rosé wines, as the foudres are not filled all the way. This headspace in the cask allows for the development of fleurette, a waxy veil of yeast cells that creates a unique flavor profile. Fleurette or flor is most associated with sherry, so your tasting notes — especially on the Tradition and the Cuvée des Vignette — will undoubtedly include some sherry-linked adjectives, like hazelnuts and raisins. Consequentially, these rosé can age for 10 years or more. This is a side of Provence many have not seen.
Cibonne Tentations Côtes de Provence Rosé
At first glance, the Tentations Côtes de Provence Rosé would appear to be the estate's entry into the vin de soif rosé category that Provence so readily dominates. It's perhaps a smidge deeper in color, but hey, it comes in a clear bottle and looks guzzle-able.
But even with this cuvée, the Deforges family can't help but create something textural and substantive. Made primarily from Grenache and Cinsault (with Tibouren and Syrah at 10% each), the wine maintains the freshness and fruit-tinged generosity that pleases crowds, while surprising with its combo of sumptuousness and minerality. This is the wineries lone négociant wine.
Clos Cibonne "Cuvée Tradition" Côtes de Provence Cru Classe Tibouren Rosé
The Cuvée Tradition marks the introduction to Clos Cibonne's most cherished story — that of the aging foudres originally used by André Roux. A recent comparison between this wine and the Cuvée des Vignettes (below) showed more restrained aromas, but a firm sense of confidence on the palate no less. This wine seems to reside between rosé and orange wine in terms of its tenor: it has the precision of the former, the depth and patience of the latter. A distant whisper of orange rind on the nose is a tantalizing find.
Clos Cibonne "Cuvée des Vignettes" Côtes de Provence Cru Classe Tibouren Rosé
With its beautiful, radiant carnelian color, the Cuvée des Vignettes makes a startling introduction the second its comes out of the bottle. You don't even need to place your nose below the rim of the glass to catch its potent aromas, which for me were akin to raisins, tangerine, apple, hazelnuts and baking spice. With the "Cuvée des Vignettes" you are getting the entire story of Clos Cibonne in a single sip: the 60-year-old Tibouren vines, the 110-year-old casks, the richness of the fleurette-imparted process. Only two casks are devoted to this wine, making it not only one of the most unique wines in all of France, but among its rarest.
Clos Cibonne Côtes de Provence Cru Classe Tibouren Rouge
So what does Tibouren even taste like? Clos Cibonne's rouge is vinified in stainless-steel and aged six months in foudres. While it is a 90-10 blend with Grenache in the minority, I honestly didn't notice much of a contribution from the latter grape with this wine. It is snappy, light and pleasantly tart like the Tibouren/Rossese wines found over the border in Italy, but a faintly savory taste and very subtle hints akin to hickory smoke give the wine substance and intrigue.