Château Chasse-Spleen 1996
• Domaine: Château Chasse-Spleen
• Appellation: Moulis en Médoc
• Classification: Cru Bourgeois
• Origin: Left Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
Château Chasse-Spleen is a Crus Bourgeoise property within the Haut Médoc that hosts a long and interesting history. The origin story of how the estate received its name is very unique – and perhaps even a little odd. The profound beauty of the estate is rumored to have captivated the famous poet Lord Byron to such an extent that he asked one question: “Quel remede pour chasser le spleen?” a phrase that loosely translates to, “What remedy to remove the spleen?” Out of context, this seems a bit strange, but in the 19th Century this question made perfect sense. The spleen was an organ thought to be the center of emotions and feeling and Château Chasse-Spleen left a remarkable effect on all who visited it that people were simply overcome with its beauty. Yet Château Chasse-Spleen is not simply a pretty face, for the grand vin continues to get better each year, proving to be an excellent value.
Château Chasse-Spleen was initially once a part of the vast estate called Château Grand-Poujeaux. The property rose to prominence as a great wine producer in the 1700s. Eventually in 1822 the vineyard was divided in half. One remained Château-Gressier-Grand-Poujeaux and the other was divided into three estates: Château Maucaillou, Château Poujeaux-Thiel, and Château Chasse Spleen. The property changed hands many times throughout the ages until it was purchased by the Merlaut family in the 1970s. The estate was expanded to a whopping 100-hectare property under the direction of Jacques Merlaut and his daughter Bernadette Villars. The Merlaut family invested a lot into the estate. They replanted the vineyards and modernized the winemaking facilities. For those unfamillar, the Merlaut family are very successful negociants who own Château Gruaud Larose, Château Ferriere, Château Citran and Château Haut Bages Liberal. The property is currently run by Claire Villars, Bernadette Villars’ daughter.
This classically-styled, picturesque estate is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and a small percentage of Cabernet Franc. As is typical of the Médoc, the majority of the plantings at the property are of Cabernet Sauvignon. The terroir is a perfect home for this varietal, as it consists of gravel topsoil, layered with clay and a limestone core. The vines are 30 years old on average, and a small portion on the estate is devoted to growing Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Château Chasse-Spleen practices environmentally sustainable viticultural practices and proudly hosts a HEV value of 3 – the highest an estate can achieve.
Château Chasse-Spleen vinifies their wine in a combination of stainless steel tanks and wooden vats. The stainless steel is meant to preserve purity of fruit and terroir, while the wooden vats give the wine just a bit of added structure and body. For the fair pricing, Chasse-Spleen is no slouch in terms of ageability. In fact, the wine tastes its best if it has laid down for 8-15 years after the vintage has been bottled. The wine is incredibly versatile, and pairs beautifully with Asian dishes in addition to heavier meaty entrees.
"I tasted this wine on three separate occasions, and although it possesses impressive structure and enough depth of fruit, it is disjointed and exhibits an astringent finish - largely because of the high tannin level. If it fleshes out and the tannin sweetens, the wine will merit a score in the upper eighties. For now, it is a deep purple-colored, Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated wine with medium body, and strong tannin in both the flavor and finish. It is made in a style that will not provide much charm or pleasure for 7-8 years. It should keep for two decades." Robert M. Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate Issue 110, (04/24/1997) Rating: 86-87