A Deeper Shade of Pink

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Bandol's Chateau Pibarnon bucks the trend of rosé lite

It’s summertime, which can mean firing up the grill, switching off the brain, and pouring lots of rosé—sometimes even over ice.

The world has developed a thirst for highly quaffable, ultrapale rosé, and Provence is its main supplier. By today’s fashion, the lighter the better. (See my blog post on how research into aesthetic preferences has shaded the color of Provence rosé.)

Now, I don’t mean to be a Provence party pooper, but I want to talk about a smaller school of winemakers—let’s call them rosé resisters—who are bucking the trend by making darker, more substantial and complex rosés.

One noteworthy resister is Eric de Saint Victor of Château de Pibarnon in Bandol—the small coastal appellation neighboring the much larger Côtes de Provence. Since 2000, when he took over his family’s stunningly gorgeous 130-acre spread high in the hills above the Mediterranean coast, he has focused not just on Bandol’s flagship powerful reds, but on rich rosés meant to stand up to the local cuisine’s strong flavors, like garlic, saffron, anchovies, sea urchin and roast peppers.

"In Côtes de Provence the higher up you go [in price], the lighter the wine—to where it’s almost a white,” says the blue-eyed Saint Victor, 52, from a hilltop vineyard on a breezy early summer day. “In Bandol, that’s not our way. In Bandol we are used to looking for concentration—even in rosé.”

The Saint Victors are relative newcomers here. Saint Victor’s father, the late Count Henri de Saint Victor, was a Normandy native and Paris pharmaceutical company researcher. In 1978, he came to Bandol with his wife, Catherine. The couple was wowed by a bottle of Pibarnon red at lunch, visited the rustic, struggling estate, and bought it...read the full blog at winespectator.com