Le Faîte de Saint Mont Blanc 2018 – Plaimont.
For this review we move to one of the largest wine regions of France, one that has a lot of history as well as diversity. We are moving to the South West of France, more specifically Gascogne. Neighboring Bordeaux this region is often undervalued, as it is believed by insiders the wines produced here on average have better value, offering the same taste and quality for a generally reduced price.
One of the biggest wine producers with strong ties to the region is the Plaimont cooperation and in this review, we are discussing their flagship wine “Le Faîte de Saint Mont Blanc”.
About the Region
If you take a look at the map of France you will immediately notice the vicinity of Bordeaux, as you are looking for Gascogne and the department Gers, where the heart of Plaimont can be found. Gascogne is also referred to as “Côtes de Gascogne” and its wines can be labelled as IGP Côtes de Gascogne.
The region is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the West and the Pyrenees mountains in the South. In the east it stretches as far as Toulouse. The Atlantic moderates temperatures and the proximity to the Pyrenees leads to a bigger change in temperature between day and night. Also, the region enjoys a long and steady growing season, ensuring healthier grapes and higher yields. All these elements together lead to more concentrated aromas and freshness in the grapes.
As this is quite a big region there is some variety in the soil types, allowing for production of excellent terroir wines such as Le Faîte, with a very own and distinct character. The region hosts some of the oldest vineyards in France, based on alluvial sand soils that in some cases even protected the vines for the Phylloxera disaster.
History and Present
Gascogne has a long and rich history in which it was at time way more popular than its Northern brother Bordeaux. Its wines found their way to the powerful and merchants in Bordeaux who, with the harbor in possession, had strong control over sales and export to England for instance (Gascogne has strong ties with England since it belonged to England around the 11th century). At some point the wines become so popular that production and sales in the Bordeaux region got favored to protect their own wines. One could say the success of Gascogne became its downfall at that point.
Producers in Gascogne moved their focus on producing more and cheaper (bulk) wine, which also was not a sustainable strategy. Also, the production of Armagnac started to peak, but here we have to credit the Phylloxera disaster as grape growers and winemakers took a heavy hit here.
Since the 1970’s a shift became eminent and as Armagnac started to go out of fashion some producers and cooperation’s saw the light at some point and went back to their roots. They wanted to focus on producing unique quality wines again. Plaimont became one of these success stories, reviving not only its regional grape varieties and vineyards but also itself. With a lot of attention for lesser known, regional, grape varieties such as Pinenc, Arrufiac and Petit Courbu.
Some of the other varieties that thrive in the region are: Tannat, Colombard, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Ugni Blanc (aka Trebbiano) Petit and Gros Manseng. A rich variety of grapes that enables the producers to come up with a wide array of wines and exceptional blends. Taking advantage of the best every vintage has to offer, producing wines ranging from simple to complex, with something to offer for evert wine lover.
About the Winery
Founded in 1979 Plaimont is now one of the big players in one of France’s biggest wine regions. This cooperation has no less than 1,000 vignerons as their members, totaling for about an astonishing 5,250 hectares of vineyards. Ever since Plaimont started their focus has been on producing quality wines in different price range, with a unique and regional character. Plaimont is heavily invested in growth, with a quality and innovation budget that accounts for 5-10% of their yearly revenue.
The majority of Plaimont’s wines are produced under the IGP Côtes de Gascogne label, but Plaimont has an even more specific stronghold in Gascogne, the AOC Saint Mont, home of “Le Faîte”. Two other notable AOC’s under which they produce are the AOC Madiran and AOC Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh.
About the Wine
As we already mentioned Le Faîte is Plaimont’s absolute flagship wine. You will recognize the wines straight away because of their waxed top and seal, but mostly because of the wooden “plaque” that they carry instead of a regular wine label. Beautiful to see and something that surely makes them stand out!
The first vintage for Le Faîte Blanc was 2000. In this blend 3 grape varieties are used: Gros Manseng, Petit Courbu and Arrufiac. These wines are the most beautiful expression of the iconic Saint Mont AOC, with an history dating back to the 11th century.
Part of what makes this wine unique is the composition and selection process that is followed. Every vintage has a different split in varieties and origin. The final choice on the blend is made as a group decision in the “assemblage”, where a number of pre-selected wines are rated by professionals from the wine industry. This annual blending is a big event, which we got to attend this year (2023).
Le Faîte Blanc 2018
A rich golden yellow colour in the glass. Its nose is as rich as its colour, supplying you with a wide array of exotic fruit notes which are supplemented with luscious notes of hazelnut and vanilla provided by the oak treatment. On the palette the wine is extremely balanced and not to full or fat because of the well provided acidity and refreshing minerality. It is a full-bodied wine (ABV 14%) with a long aftertaste.
This white queen works perfectly as a companion to rich fish dishes, coquilles, lobster or white asparagus but will also stand her ground when matched up with lighter meat dishes or poultry. A wine that can help you through a starter as well as a well choosen main course.
With only about 20,000 bottles of Rouge and 10,000 of Blanc produced yearly these icons are real treasures and are as rare in volume as they are in character. The ultimate expression of Saint Mont and unique because of the regional varieties used and the hard work and love that are put in them. A luxurious and rich wine, with beautiful complexity and balance as well as a strong ageing potential.
We awarded Le Faîte Blanc with a 93-point score. Bravo Vignerons of Plaimont, you can be proud of these treasures!
We have also reviewed Le Faîte Rouge from Plaimont, learn more about this wine by clicking on the link below:
Price: € 25,00
Taste date: February 2023
Score: 93/100 DWA Score