Château de Cabidos

The heart of this domaine is the Château de Cabidos, a listed historical monument dating back to the 16th century sitting in an area of outstanding natural beauty close to the Pyrenees in the Béarnais.

The majority of the plantings are 7.3 hectares of the local petit manseng variety, with a hectare of sauvignon and smaller parcels of chardonnay and syrah. There has been a great deal of investment here with new cellars carefully designed and built in sympathy with the old château while introducing modern equipment. There are five cellar rooms, each temperature controlled, in which they make and mature their wines.

A small amount of red is made from the syrah but excellent dry and dessert whites – made from petit manseng – form the majority of production and the sweet wines are something of a passion. Sustainable viticulture is used throughout.

Unusually, the lady winemaker here is Meo Sakorn-Series, the only Thai winemaker in France and recently awarded the prestigious Chevalier of the National Order of Merit by the President of France.

For the luscious sweet wines the grapes are allowed to raisin on the vine, occasionally into December for some cuvées, using a method called passerillage in which the stems of the bunches are twisted to shut off the flow of sap, concentrating the sugars in the bunches as they hang long into the autumn.

The grapes are harvested by hand, sorted and then gently pressed before fermentation in stainless steel. The resulting wines are aged in French oak barrels for a year before bottling. They are classic wines of the region, the perfect match for local foie gras and fruit desserts, and sit happily beside salty blue cheeses.