Many people think (not without reason) that Bordeaux in terms of wine is very commercial and overpriced. Magnificent châteaux, steep prices, and perfect but soulless wines. We often see the owners of world-famous Grand Cru Classé, but we barely see people standing behind this work.
But, as always, there are exceptions. Recently I was pleased to meet a person from behind-the-scene. Alain Albistur, the owner of Domaine Les Sadons, has been working for more than 25 years in the cellar of Château Haut-Batailley and in his free time running a family domaine (it smells like Burgundy here) of 0,87ha (or 8 “sadons” which is a traditional measure of land equal to one day of work, something like “ouvrée”).
These 8 sadons are distributed between 3 plots in Pauillac and all surrounded by the renowned properties – Pichon Baron and Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. My first question to Alain was how he managed to acquire this land. The answer was simple; these plots were his family agricultural land. Alain’s grandfather moved to Bordeaux from the Basque Country in the 1930s as many other workers at that time. He worked for Château Latour, and this land was given to him as a remuneration. Until 1999 the family grew fruits and vegetables there and pastured their muttons (hello, the Rothschilds!). That year Alain started his adventurous project and created Domaine Les Sadons.
Nowadays, the vineyards reached the legal age and are planted with 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 3% Petit Verdot. Alain produced his first wine in 2002, but he was selling it in bulk until 2006 when he decided that he was ready to put the Domaine’s name on the label. With a very high density of vines (9000 vines per hectare), he is able to produce 6000 bottles a year.
Domaine Les Sadons is a truly family property as Alain’s both sons, Adrien and Valentin, are helping him in the winery. All together they built a new cellar constructing 3 concrete tanks themselves. It is a little tragic that Alain never participates in the harvest in his own vineyards as he has to work at his official place at the same time. After retirement, he hopes to share this joy with his family and friends who help him with the harvest every year.
I tried Alain’s 2016 Domaine Les Sadons, which was very smooth and silky but nevertheless powerful, a true expression of the exceptional vintage. The price at the winery was 35€ for 75ml bottle, bigger sizes are available on request. The winery is open for visits! Learn some French or get a guide with you as Alain does not speak English though you will be charmed by him anyway even without understanding a word.