- Sarah O'Kelley
Clos Cibonne: Not Your Average Rosé
Is there anything better than sharing wine with your bestie on the porch in the summer at dusk? In my opinion, absolutely not. So, when one of my oldest and dearest friends visited a few weeks ago I had so many decisions to make regarding our porch wines. Of course, there would be Champagne to celebrate such a reunion but what else? (Real, first world problems!)
Rosé was a frontrunner, but I wanted more than just a fun, fresh rosé…I wanted something to talk about (aside from Britney Spears’s wedding)!! And that’s when it hit me – an old favorite that I have somehow neglected in my rosé propaganda – Clos Cibonne Tradition from Provence, France. But rest assured this is not just another ballerina pink, Provençal rosé.
When I poured it, the sun was beginning to set, and I swear the hue of this wine actually resembles a summer sunset: mostly bronze with just a hint of pink. My friend actually asked, “Oh wait, is this a rosé or an orange wine?” Good question, the color certainly leads you to the orange category (aka white grapes fermented on their skins). And even the nose has a touch of that orange wine complexity. But no, this is indeed a rosé – just a very special and unique specimen.
The Clos Cibonne estate has quite the long history (dating back hundreds of years ), but its “modern” chapters begin in the 1930s when André Roux planted the vineyards exclusively to the rare Tibouren grape and created their iconic labels , which remain unchanged. Tibouren is a very ancient grape with roots in Mesopotamia, and then transported by the Romans to Liguria (along the Italian Mediterranean coast), where it is known as Rossesse. It is known as a tedious grape in the vineyard, requiring much ventilation, and so coastal breezes are a key to its success.
Thankfully the Cibonne property is walking distance to the ocean, and thus Tibouren has thrived here. André Roux received much praise for his wines, but after his era the winery lost its way until 1993 when his granddaughter Brigitte took over the property with her husband Claude Deforges. They renovated the cellars but were sure to keep the big, old barrels that are a key to this rosé’s character.
See, here, in this coastal, Mediterranean climate, there is a bit of magic in the cellar. While the rosé ages in those large, ancient barrels, a unique yeast veil develops on the surface of the wine. (If you are familiar with the famed yeast veil of Sherry; this is indeed similar.)
And yes, I mentioned the rosé aging in barrel, which is not a phrase often associated with our nimble, fresh, pink darlings. But here at Cibonne they age their “Tradition” and “Vignettes” for a year. Thus, the wine develops its unique bronze hue. And the yeast veil (or fleurette) imbues it with a subtle savory quality. Now, you can understand why I stressed the unique and special nature of this wine.
I have actually not sat down and enjoyed this beauty in so long. And the last time was also at sunset with my mother and grandmother (who have since passed) so it really holds a special place in my heart.
And guess what, it lived up to all my nostalgic hype. It smelled and tasted of ripe peaches and sun dried herbs, and it caught the last of the day’s rays just as I remembered. Best of all, it elevated a moment with someone special.