2007 Château de Pibarnon Bandol


The first official report I ever wrote for Robert Parker was neither Bordeaux nor Burgundy. In fact, it was Bandol. I instantly fell in love with this picture-postcard region: the mountainous backdrop that forms a protective amphitheatre and creates a benign climate; the quaint hilltop villages; the glistening Mediterranean Sea. What more could you want? I vividly recall driving up to Château de Pibarnon and trying to keep my eyes on the winding track as the panoramic view kept flickering through the pine trees. After my tasting, I bought an older vintage to enjoy back at home. Unfortunately, the previous day, authorities had banned the carrying of bottles in hand luggage. I do hope that the customs officials appreciated my confiscated 1990. 

Annoyingly, I have not kept abreast of Bandol as I would have liked to, though I seek out its wines whenever possible. Dining at Hostellerie des Clos in Chablis recently, I spotted a 2007 Bandol from Château de Pibarnon at a very reasonable price and decided to reacquaint myself. A blend of 90% Mourvèdre and 10% Grenache from 30-year-old vines, this wine was cropped at 27hl/ha and aged for 20 months in oak cask. Showing only modest signs of maturity on the rim, it has a gorgeous bouquet of ripe raspberries, hung game and that distinctive menthol note you often find with mature Mourvèdre. (Some people describe it as an elastoplast/Band-Aid scent – there are definite similarities.) The palate is beautifully balanced and not a million miles away from a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, with its fleshy, corpulent body and its flavor profile of allspice, clove and wild fennel filtered through dark red brambly fruit. It is savory, almost gamy, toward the sensual and slightly bucolic finish. This 13-year-old Bandol is à point, although I envisage another decade of drinking pleasure, possibly more. A wine that’s impossible to not enjoy. 93/Drink 2020-2030.