March 1, 2016
Château Crabitan-bellevue: tradition in modernity
Nicolas Solane perpetuates the family tradition at Château Crabitan-Bellevue in Sainte-Croix-du-Mont. This family of winegrowers has been welcoming visitors for more than forty years on its property to share its passion for Sweet Bordeaux wines.
Château Crabitan-Bellevue is open every day except the first Sunday of each month, and it has been that way for forty years. This shows that the wines these winegrowers make, from father to son, are an integral part of Sainte-Croix-du-Mont. The new generation, that of Nicolas Solane, 43 years old, took lead in 1994. After general studies and an advanced technician certificate in winegrowing and oenology, the winemaker is now the only manager.
Haversting by hand
His two liquorous white wines, in appellation Sainte-Croix-du-Mont and Premières Côtes de Bordeaux, are made from 25 hectares of vineyards. “90% are covered with Sémillon cépage, plus a bit of Sauvignon and Muscadelle. The Bordeaux Premières Côtes is liquorous but still lighter”, Nicolas Solane specifies. Even though it has been modernized, the production mode could not be more classical. As always, harvesting of the liquorous white wines is done by hand. “It is not possible to mechanize this, it is too much know-how”, the winemaker insists. The harvesters’ training is paramount. “Because the most important thing in a liquorous wine is the quality of the sorting of the botrytised grapes”, he adds.
Selling at the property
In line with his parents’ activity, the bottles at Château Crabitan-Bellevue are mostly sold directly at the property. “My parents stopped going to fairs 30 years ago. I have only been to two lately: Chengdu in China and Vinipro in Bordeaux”, Nicolas Solane stresses. The winemaker thinks he owns his promotion-less success to a good value for money. “We greet customers daily, because we are here every day working in the vineyard. Word-of-mouth takes care of the rest!” the winemaker adds.
“always a bottle kept in the fridge”
Following the demand, the visits aim to make people discover the cellar and the wine-making process, or the vineyard rather. Tasting time is however unmissable. “One should always keep a bottle of Sweet Bordeaux in the fridge to be drank cool as an aperitif, it is ideal. Or it can be drank with spicy dishes, cheese or chicken”, advises Nicolas Solane. And the winemaker observes: “young people are beginning to be interested in those wines again. I think it is because they are now looking for authentic products, not industrial ones. The rather sweet taste of our Sweet Bordeaux probably also plays a part in our success with them.”