It was difficult for me to open this wine. Not because of the cork, but because it's just such a breathtakingly beautiful color that I didn't want to empty the bottle... But at the same time, I had to know how it tasted. Ah, the eternal conflict of wine.
This little beauty is the 2008 Xavier Flouret Nationale 7, $20, 13% abv. From the Côtes de Provence AOC, made in a spot on the coast between Marseille and Nice in the southeast corner of France. No oak, all stainless steel. 45% Grenache, 40% Cinsault, 15% Tibouren. A very light and delicate wine, and you'll want to resist the urge to serve this too cold. As it warms up a yellow cherry and violet aroma arises. Light strawberry flavors with just a bit of acidity towards the finish. If you ever talk to someone who wants a gentle transition into French wines, or maybe is trying to break out of the Pinot Grigio rut, I'd strongly recommend this wine.
I served it with a homemade white clam pizza. I haven't made crust from scratch in a while and it was a pleasure working with the dough again. A splash of olive oil, a healthy dose of garlic, a can of chopped clams, fresh mozzarella, and shredded spinach. Lovely light dinner to go along with such a beautiful wine, and the seafood/coastal wine connection seemed appropriate.
As stated above, one of the grapes is Tibouren. It just so happens that this is my 150th confirmed grape. I've tried more, but for bragging purposes I stick to those I've got documented here on the blog, minus duplicates like Trajadura/Treixadura. And coincidentally, #150 is a weird, rare, obscure grape with a confusing history.
A few hours of research in different languages revealed alternate names, such as Guesserin, Gaysserin, Lou Defiouraire, Tiboulen, Tibourenc, Antibois, Antibouren, and Antibourenc. (Some of these names only show up in an 1881 catalog of European grapes. I consider the variant Tribouren to be a persistent typo.) The latter names were useful in that they pointed towards the French Riviera city of Antibes, founded by Greek settlers in 500 B.C.E.
English sources I found claim that the grape came to France via Greece, while French sources claim it came from Chaldea (part of Babylonia near modern day Kuwait). It's possible both are true, since many grapes moved from the Middle East through Greece to the Mediterranean and then throughout Europe and later the rest of the world. It's grown primarily as a blending grape for rosés in Provence, and I didn't find evidence of it being planted anywhere else in the world. Well, a German source makes reference to a Tibouren grape grown in Armenia, but that it's unknown if there's a relationship. And the Italian take on the whole thing is just confusing and full of speculation. (If anyone wants to tackle the Niçard or Provençal sources, be my guest. Life's too short to learn the 40 minor dialects spoken in France.)
Having run out of languages, source material, and without physical grapes, leaves, or DNA to test, I have no definitive answer about the grape's origins. Perhaps some ampelographer will figure it out in the future. While the hunt was fun, perhaps I was overthinking it... After all, this is a light and refreshing wine for enjoying on a sunny afternoon, even if you're not on the expensive beaches of Saint-Tropez.
This wine was received as a sample from Cognac One.