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WINE OF THE WEEK: Château de Sabazan 2018, Saint Mont, France

£16.50, The Wine Society

A bottle of French red wine
Chateau de Sabazan Saint Mont

I’ve recommended white Saint Mont wines many times (here and here for example), but seem to have neglected the reds, which makes no sense at all.

Not only do I like the wines, red and white, almost all of which are made by the exemplary Plaimont co-operative, including those from single estates like Château de Sabazan, but I helped select the blend of one of Plaimont’s iconic reds: the 2006 vintage of Le Faite.

Each year the co-op invites two “big names” (as they put it) in wine and gastronomy to choose the blend for the red and white Le Faite that are soon to be bottled. I did the selection in 2008, so it was the 2007 white alongside the 2006 red.

It was a great privilege and I was thrilled when last year the 2007 red was one of only 25 Plaimont wines chosen for the 25th anniversary tasting in Paris.

Back to the bottle in question, the 2018 vintage of the estate-bottled Château de Sabazan: a plush, deep crimson, velvet-smooth wine with perfumed sun-warmed black-fruit aromas and a rich palate of blackberryish fruit, lightly smoky licorice, cool graphite and polished tannins.

It’s a blend dominated by the the local Tannat grape, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and another local star, Pinenc, aka Fer, Fer Servadou, Braucol or Mansois. One of Plaimont’s admirable commitments is to local grape varieties, including finding and reviving long lost varieties in this quiet, under-recognised wine region in southwest France.

Tannat, which is also the hero grape of Madiran (just to the southwest of Saint Mont) and of Uruguay, is famed for being tannic, but in the hands of the right growers and winemakers those tannins can be tamed.


The individual parcels that make up the 2018 were aged separately for 12 months in French oak barrels (40% new, 40% second fill and 20% third fill) then blended and rested in tank for four months, producing a Saint Mont that's ready for drinking but which could be cellared for another eight years or more.

Classic regional food pairings include confit de canard, magret de canard (cooked rare like steak) and cassoulet. It also goes well with vegetarian cassoulet, chickpea and cavolo nero stew, lamb, steak, meaty stews, hard and semi-soft sheep’s cheeses such as Ossau Iraty and Manchego, and cheeses such as Comté and Chistera (the latter made from goat’s and ewe’s milk). Bring on the barbecue, I say. 14%. Empty bottle weight: 605g.

Château de Sabazan 2018, Saint Mont, France


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