Roger Sabon Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve 2016
Les Olivets represents a classically provençale style of Châteauneuf, redolent with dried herbs and bright red fruit while Prestige is dense, structured and darkly fruited. Between these two styles is Didier’s Reserve, a blend of Grenache with Syrah, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Cinsault from vines between 60 and 75 years old. While Olivets comes almost entirely from gravelly, red clay soils, the Reserve also includes fruit from limestone and sandy terroirs. It is aged in foudres and 600L French oak demi-muids.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Musky notes of fur, earth and violet lend seductive perfume to ripe but pristine blackberry in this stately wine. A powerful blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre, it’s unctuously fruity but also firmly anchored by fresh mineral tones and chewy, gripping tannins. The finish lingers on hints of coffee grinds and violet candy. Eric Solomon Selections. Editors’ Choice
Intense, with a core of dark plum, boysenberry and fig reduction flavors that are a bit brooding in feel, while licorice snap, roasted alder and tar notes hold sway for now. Shows a terrifically racy graphite and iron spine and a long, smoldering finish, so just let this stretch out in the cellar. Best from 2020 through 2040.
Domaine Roger Sabon was founded in 1952 and is currently run by Roger’s sons Denis and Gilbert. A third son, Jean-Jacques is deceased but his son-in-law Didier Negron is the current winemaker. Denis and his son Julien oversee the farming while Gilbert and his niece, Delphine run the office. It is quite the family affair!
The size of the domaine has grown slowly over the years with 18 hectares in Chateauneuf du Pape, 8 hectares in Lirac and 8 hectares in Côtes-du-Rhône. Most of their holdings in Chateauneuf-du-Pape are located in the northeastern part of the appellation, where the soils are sandier with a high concentration of limestone. They also own a few parcels in Le Crau famous for its red clay under a deep layer of galets deposited from the alps eons ago. These two soil types combine to make wines that are equally rich and nuanced.
Since 2001 Didier Negron has made the wines at Domaine Roger Sabon, but recently he’s begun to move away from demi-muids and barriques in favor of aging his family’s wines in concrete and large French oak foudres. While the terroir of Roger Sabon, with its high concentration of sand and limestone, has always been inclined to a more ethereal and delicate style of Chateauneuf, Didier’s changes in the cellar have amplified these qualities – the wines have never been more engaging and lovely.
While Grenache is the mainstay at the Domaine, they also grow Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Terret Noire, Counoise, Vaccarèse Muscardin, Roussanne, Clairette, Bourboulenc and Grenache Blanc. They own some fairly old Syrah, about 60 years old, located on limestone soils which is an important component in the Prestige bottling. Their oldest vines, topping 100 years old, are located in two plots near Courthézon, and are the source for the Secret des Sabon. While details are sketchy and the Sabons are shy about divulging any information about this cuvée, it is safe to assume that these vines are primarily Grenache. In the cellar there is a single demi-muid in the shadows which is presumably the Secret des Sabon, but once again polite inquires are met with a Gallic shrug."