Ch Les Sablonnets 19
Every year, I look forward to a visit from Christophe Lillet, the managing director of Maison Salin. Maison Salin is one of the oldest and most highly respected négociant firms in Bordeaux. The company was started in 1798 by Pierre Salin, and over the years, it has grown into one of the most influential advocates of Bordeaux on the planet. Frédéric Salin (co-owner of Domaine de Tamary, featured below) and his daughter Astrid represent the seventh and eighth generation to run the family business.
Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, I had to miss Christophe's annual visit and tasting of Petit Bordeaux Châteaux this year. Happily, he shipped over some small sample vials for us to profile the new vintages. The clear standout was Château Sablonnets, a modest estate owned by the Chassaing family in Les Lèves-et-Thoumeyragues, a tiny commune on the eastern edge of Bordeaux.
What's interesting here is the connection between Maison Salin and Château Sablonnets and how it all works to get a terrific, inexpensive bottle of Bordeaux into the hands of customers halfway around the globe. Although Maison Salin is mainly known for their dealings in Classified Growths -- the highly sought-after and expensive side of Bordeaux -- they also trade in "Petit Châteaux," the small, independently-owned, and often inexpensive properties of Bordeaux. Château Sablonnets owner Christophe Chassaing will talk to you all day about farming equipment; however, he'll probably have very little to say about international export and sales. On the other hand, the Salin folks are the experts in global sales and export, and most of them probably wouldn't know how to start up a tractor, let alone use one. It's an ideal alliance for both the Chassaing family and Maison Salin!
In your glass, you'll find Chateau Les Sablonnets "Cuvee Clelian" to be a smooth, fruit-first style of Bordeaux, making this red an excellent choice for any occasion and suitable for a wide variety of cuisine. Dark red berry with hints of leather greets the nose leading to an exceptionally silky palate of red plum and dark cherry with subtle hints of spice and tobacco leaf. The tannins are ripe and present; however, they take a back seat to the vibrant fruit, opening up tons of food-pairing possibilities.