Two Pibarnons Nine Vintages Apart
by Peter J Troilo
Perched atop the famous La Colline de Telegraphe in the northern most part of Bandol is Chateau Pibarnon, an estate purchased by Henri de Saint Victor in 1975 (hey, my birth year!). The vistas from the estate are striking as they look over the amphitheater of vineyards known as Theatre d’Epidaune. Borrowing from Joe Walsh, “Ain’t never been there, they tell me it’s nice.” Maybe someday.
What differentiates Pibarnon from other Bandol estates is its unparalleled soil. The Saint-Victor family carved the restanques (terraces) that hold their vineyards out of the limestone, blue marl soil that is uniquely theirs. The move was an attempt to control water run-off and enhance the growing conditions. It turned out to be a brilliant maneuver.
Not only does Pibarnon sit on a lovely stretch of limestone and blue marl perfect for growing the mourvedre grape, it is also fortunate to have a layer of fossil material that is 150 million years older than any other parts of the appellation. This layer of fossil material provides the vines with extraordinary nutrients and makes Pibarnon’s estate one of the best spots on earth to grow mourvedre. It’s one of the top reasons their wines are so delicious.
The opportunity to purchase a wine in its current vintage and a vintage that is 9 years its senior is uncommon. Nick and I tasted these wines together. He thought the 2001 was a bit closed and going through a phase. I agreed and thought there was plenty of development yet to be completed. Both of us thought the 2010 and the 2001 would make excellent additions to our cellar.
The Bottom Line:
Chateau Pibarnon Bandol 2010 - $50 per bottle
Chateau Pibarnon Bandol 2001 - $65 per bottle*
You can split a case of each and apply a 10% discount, but only if you convince me that you’ll never go through 12 bottles of each. If you would like to read the tasting notes for each wine, just click the links.
*Please note that there are currently only two cases of 2001 available. However, we have more arriving in March.