Winning Red Wines from Provence with Lamb Meatballs: Domaine Hauvette and Clos Cibonne #Winophiles

Looking for special bottles of red wine from Provence is not necessarily easy in Bordeaux. Over half of the wine in Provence is pink, the color many identify with the region. To find a few, I headed to a favorite wine bar, Julo-Halles de Talence, where I knew Guillermo would have some enticing bottles. He has an eye for finding small and interesting winemakers in Southern France.

He immediately pulled out his favorites and ravenous Franglish ensued. I settled on two that fit my budget: Domaine Hauvette and Clos Cibonne.

Allons-Y! (Let’s Go!) at Domaine Hauvette

Guillermo took a chance showing up at the Saint-Remy-de-Provence winery the day and time he proposed to Dominique Hauvette- she had not responded to his inquiry. Apparently, it’s quite difficult to get a visit yet she waved him up the road and they were off.

He shared that the Domaine and vineyards are tucked right up against the base of the Alpilles mountains (little Alps) which rise up steeply in the Les Baux-de-Provence region. The area is wildly rugged, hot, and luckily enjoys the Mistral wind. The latter two keep things dry making forms of organic viticulture easier and the norm among vignerons; each of the twelve producers practice either organic, biodynamic, or an equivalent form of farming. And in fact the appellation, AOP Les Baux-de-Provence, is trying to make it a mandate.

Hauvette’s technique in the vineyard and winery is in line with this- no chemicals, natural preparations and minimal intervention. She prefers letting the vines and grapes express their true personality and practices biodynamic farming. This inspiration came from meetings with Eloi Dürrbach at Domaine de Trévallon early in her wine life. Trévallon is a Les Baux pioneer of these methods.

Awarded for her work and her wines, Dominique was elected Winemaker of the Year 2020 at the Grand Prix of the Revue des Vins de France. She is the first woman to earn that title.

Wine Two – Eccentric Tibouren at Clos Cibonne

The second wine comes from a different area in Provence, Le Pradet, where Clos Cibonne goes back centuries. The late 1700s is when the Roux family purchased the estate. In 1930, Andre Roux found a few peculiar vines growing in an area of his Mourvèdre vineyard. Taking them for analysis, he discovered the grape to be Tibouren. He ended up propagating them, pulling out the Mourvèdre vines and planting the entire vineyard to Tibouren.

Clos Cibonne Côtes de Provence
Clos Cibonne has a definite Mediterranean feel. Photo courtesy of Clos Cibonne.

His Tibouren was (and still is) so regarded that Clos Cibonne is the only Cru Classé granted special permission to put the grape variety name on the label. This is not surprising given his advocacy for the area and work to establish Provence’s Cru Classé of which Clos Cibonne is one of eighteen.

Today the fifth generation is making the wine and running the show: Brigette Deforge, the granddaughter of André Roux, and her winemaker husband Claude Deforge.

They continue to love this finicky grape even though it’s susceptible to rot and has non-homogenous clusters. Their vineyard position twenty minutes from the Mediterranean means prevalent sea breezes and thankfully, no rot problems.

This very rare grape with limited acreage is also a new love for us- our first time tasting it. DNA analysis confirmed it is the same variety as Rossese di Dolceacqua from north-eastern Italy’s Liguria region.

My tasting notes and wine pairing follow. Note both wineries are organic and Domaine Hauvette utilizes biodynamic principles.

Domaine Hauvette Roucas 2018

Grenache 50%, Syrah 25%, Cabernet Sauvignon 15%, Cinsault 10%
  • Winery location: Saint-Remy-de-Provence
  • Total vineyard area: 17 hectares (42 acres)
  • Total annual production: 40,000 bottles (one of the smallest producers in this region)
  • Winemaking Roucas 2018: Native yeast fermentation in amphora, aging in stainless tank.

Pronounced ruby red in color, fairly intense blackberry, black cherry and plum aromas dominate with violet hints, and oregano and tobacco notes. It’s fresh, rich and well-structured with a round mouthfeel yet stays light on its feet. Flavors are more red-fruited (plum and cranberry). Dry, medium acidity, medium fine tannins, medium body. Distinct white pepper on the medium+ finish. Alcohol: 12.5%. Price: 24€ / about $32.

While this wine is not imported to the US, you can find other Domaine Hauvette wines through Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants.

Clos Cibonne Cuvée Spéciale Tibouren 2019, Côtes de Provence Cru Classé

90% Tibouren, 10% Grenache (They include Grenache due to AOC requirements)
The very classic label has always remained the same and is quite eye-catchy even today.

  • Winery Location: Just outside Le Pradet, between Marseille and Saint-Tropez, not far from the Mediterranean sea
  • Total vineyard area: 15 hectares (37 acres)
  • Total annual production: 134,000 bottles of which 24,00 are Tibouren rouge
  • Winemaking Cuvée Spéciale Tibouren: Native yeast fermentation in stainless vats with twice a day pump over; aging in large, old casks 4 to 6 months, depending on the vintage.

Pale ruby in color. Pronounced wild strawberry and red currant that meet evergreen-like forest mint. We loved the purity and prevalent balanced structure. Medium acidity. Medium slightly tacky yet fine tannins. Medium body and finish. The red fruit flavors are in the background on the palate, which showed pine, garrigue, and significant black pepper on the lingering finish. Alcohol: 12.5%. Price: 24€ ($30). Find in the US here. If in the EU, order directly from the winery here.

Red wines from Provence with Mediterranean Lamb Meatballs

Mark and I love Greek keftedes, which are ground meats with an assortment of spices grilled on a skewer or fried. I decided to make these meatballs and bake them because it’s no fun grilling in the rain.

I mixed garlic, cumin, cilantro and oregano into the keftedes and served them on a plate with hummus, cilantro sauce, tzatziki, crumbled feta, and home-made naan bread.

The richness and spices of all components of the dish mirrored the same in both wines, the spices playing off of each other. I have to say this was really a wow pairing! You can find the recipe here.

French Winophiles Head to Provence for Red Wines

This article is part of the French #Winophiles February theme ‘Red wines of Provence’ led by our host Payal from Keep the Peas. We are a group of wine loving writers and bloggers who meet for a Twitter chat the third Saturday monthly at 8am PT, 17:00 CET. Please join us February 20th using hashtag #Winophiles. And make sure to check out articles from other members below!

And here at Savor the Harvest I share “Winning Red Wines from Provence with Lamb Meatballs: Domaine Hauvette and Clos Cibonne”

21 thoughts on “Winning Red Wines from Provence with Lamb Meatballs: Domaine Hauvette and Clos Cibonne #Winophiles

  1. Andrea

    My stomach is absolutely growling! I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with lamb but I want absolutely everything on your plate-and the wines to go with it!

    1. Lynn Post author

      That’s funny, Mark is with you on lamb. But with the spices, herbs, and sauces, these are really great! The only way he’ll eat lamb.

  2. Lauren

    Well, now I know what to do with the package of ground lamb in my freezer. Those meatballs look delicious! Love the wines, too: I’ve had Clos Cibonne’s rose (almost a red in color) and would love to try this one. It’s been a while since I’ve tasted the Hauvette so I’d better find a bottle and repeat the experience.

    1. Lynn Post author

      Meatballs or Keftas/Keftedes are the only thing I make with ground lamb, our absolute favorite. I’ll be sharing the recipe in a separate post! Haven’t tasted the Cibonne rosé, that’s next.

    1. Lynn Post author

      He’s a great guy with a head full of information. I wanted to go hearty vegetarian yet he convinced me to do meat and glad I did.

    1. Lynn Post author

      I saw you also tasted Clos Cibonne, looking forward to learning more about your pork dish and how you liked the Tibouren. Thanks for your comment Camille 😉

  3. Cathie Schafer

    Lynn this dish looks amazing! I love reading about your wine searching adventures in Franglish! I’ll be honest, I have seen this bottle and never realize that Tibouren was the varietal, I am extremely curious to try now.

    1. Lynn Post author

      It was my first time trying Tibouren and also learning about the grape too 😉 I’ve had the Liguria version, Rossese di Dolceacqua but not one from France. Glad you liked the dish!

  4. robincgc

    First, your flowers are just lovely! Second I so envy you having a fabulous resource like Guillermo! And third, that Tibrouen sounds so delicious, I will need to find that!

    1. Lynn Post author

      Mimosas are huge here now. They are a symbol of the coming of spring, you can get them everywhere. This is my first time grabbing some and I love them too! Yes, Guillermo is a score ;-D

  5. Jane

    Two interesting wines, I have a bottle of Domaine Hauvette Rosé… before I realized the theme was just red. lol
    I love meatballs in all their meat and spice varieties, I look forward to try these!

  6. Jeff Burrows

    Clos Cibonne’s rosé is one of the few which stops me in my tracks, I need to try their rouge. I was not aware of Domaine Hauvette, but I’ll be on the lookout!

    1. Lynn Post author

      Gosh, it’s been a while since I’ve had Clos Cibonne rosé, you’ve got me intrigued to try it again. Hauvette is another showstopper!

  7. Mel

    I am also on the fence about lamb. I sometimes have a hard time getting past the gaminess. The French are sort of obsessed with lamb though! And they do it so well. Your plate looks so delish I could be swayed to give lamb another shot!

    1. Lynn Post author

      Ah, you just might like this Mel! Mark mostly turns his nose up to lamb but when you add spices and fresh cilantro to ground lamb, it’s tranforming. Et avec la sauce, magnifique!


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