Some people attribute the name to Lord Byron during a trip he made to France and others to Charles Baudelaire when he visited a friend who happened to live next to the château. What is certain is that the painter Odilon Redon, neighbour of the estate and illustrator of “Paris Spleen”, did suggest this lovely name to the estate owners in 1863.
Chasse-Spleen has been managed by women for the past thirty years; Jacques Merlaut’s daughter, Bernadette Villars, starting in 1976, followed by her daughter, Claire, beginning in 1992, and now her second daughter, Celine.
The vineyard is located just off the Route des Châteaux, halfway between Margaux and Saint-Julien, in the smallest Médoc appellation, the estate features an extraordinarily varied terroir consisting of complementary soil types ranging from pure Garonne and Pyrenean gravel to a mixture of clay and limestone.
Chasee-Spleen’s wine reflects this diversity and the best of its appellation combining the fresh, mineral qualities of Cabernet Sauvignon grown on a thick layer of gravel, and the round smoothness of Merlot planted on predominantly clay-limestone soil.
In 2017, Chasse-Spleen become home to a contemporary art centre.
The greatest Médoc wines have chosen, and they were the first to do so, to select their vintages so as to enhance the assets of this great wine, and to reduce the vintage-years’ vagaries and guarantee some stability in their qualitative supply. In the seventies, many Médoc vintages embarked on this course. Chasse-Spleen, in turn, took part in this movement in 1979, with Oratoire de Chasse-Spleen. The practical experience allowing winegrowers to dedicate such and such a vine plot to the great wine or to the second wine, is through grape tasting.The grape juice can indeed vary in taste from one year to the other, while the soil remains unchanged. Chasse-Spleen’s soil is a set on two types of ground: gravel on a calcareous-clay sub-soil and clay on limestone. Rainfalls and sunshine throughout the year will produce a different nature in the berries that grow on a particular plot of land. Furthermore, we have to agree that the Chasse-Spleen team know of the inability of some plots, whatever the climatic data, to produce the first wine. We call them quality C plots. The great soils spare us a lot of watch-time because they are very self-sufficient. On the other hand, more work has to be done on « lesser-expectation » plots : they have to be incessantly pulled in the increase. Thus, in working so as to enhance the quality potential of each class of plots, all our vintages must raise their quality accordingly. Plots which might fall into the great wine category, thus answering climatic data particular to the year, we call quality B plots. The other plots which give year in year out a great wine, from experience and without any major climatic hitch, , are called quality A plots. The age of vines being decisive regarding the quality potential, some plots might pass accordingly from C to B and eventually to A. With the second wine, some grapes from quality B and C plots can be found, whereas there are solely grapes from quality A and B plots in the great wine. Like-wise, the ampelography and viticulture have strinkingly and sufficiently improved, so as to better adapt a rootstock to the ground. This also precipitates the hierarchical promoting of the vine-stock.
Other wine: L'Oratoire de Chasse-Spleen
The history and evolution of a vineyard through inheritances, purchases, regroupings of lands, can lead to the association of several AOC (Protected Designations of Origins, i.e. PDOs) within the same estate. Chasse-Spleen having seen the light of day before the AOC notion even existed, nowadays some of its plots do not belong to the same appellation. Today, we own a dozen hectares under the haut-médoc appellation of origins. The INAO (French national institute for origins and quality) recognises the notion of organization into a hierarchy for the Médoc AOC. This means that every single wine produced in haut-médoc and in communal appellations (Saint Estèphe, Pauillac, Sain-Julien, Moulis, Margaux), is before all else, a haut-médoc wine, while the opposite is not necessarily true. Only the plots that produce exclusively within these demarcated appellations may claim the communal AOC. Héritage de Chasse-Spleen being so successful, and so as to satisfy trade markets and to meet our selection policy, we are now led to remind everyone that some Moulis plots can lawfully also claim their haut-médoc appellation. This way, an average of twenty hectares of haut-médoc land produces Héritage de Chasse-Spleen. At first known as Ermitage de Chasse Spleen, this wine had to be given a new name in 2000 because of homonymy reasons. After a birth under the best auspices while inheriting all the care brought to its magnificent senior, this new name seemed very much appropriate to us.
Other wine: L'Héritage de Chasse-Spleen
Back in 1700, Château Gressier (the name taken from its creator), started its history on its own on the grassy knolls of Grand Poujeaux which later became the cocoon from whence Chasse-Spleen originated. Both estates existed side by side for close to two centuries before joining forces as they originally had been. Nevertheless, a slight difference has remained. The excrescence (Chasse-Spleen) eventually became the matrix: Chasse-Spleen, while buying back Gressier, redrew the outlines of the original estate. Both of the viticultural entities located on the gravel knoll of Grand Poujeaux have remained intertwined like the fingers of joined hands. In 1840, impaired by a succession between the founder’s grand children, the property carried on an honourable career on the French and European markets. Phylloxera, wars and various crises affected the vim of successive Gressiers who later became Saint-Affriques. The exploitation next went through various fortunes that led its heirs to contemplate selling after three centuries of full ownership and, in entrusting their Chasse-Spleen neighbours with their destiny, they wished to give their dear vintage a new life. Chasse-Spleen is very much accustomed to the markets’ opening and, using the yardstick of XXIst century, to the specific ways of the Bordeaux trade . The latter have secured the durability of the name. As promised, Gressier Grand Poujeaux has lived through the cession. Céline Villars, Jacques Merlaut’s grand daughter, along with her husband Jean-Pierre Foubet, have remained faithful to the traditionally produced 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot type of wine, and the Merlauts, with the help of Céline and Jean-Pierre, have replaced Gressier on the traditional market in dealing with the Bordeaux trade. The wine has benefited from the technical and empirical approach of the Chasse-Spleen team and has gained in clarity, fruit and sweetness.
Other wine: Gressier Grand Poujeaux
Our job is packed with exhilarating moments, oscillating from genuine stress to utter delight. We knew that somehow there was a way to scale up this excitement and challenge in making white wine on red land. This soil is so red that not a single white wine belongs to the Médoc appellation. The white wine produced on the peninsula answers to the Bordeaux Blanc appellation contrôlée and there are barely a dozen white vintages in the Médoc area. Using the yardstick of the nineties, two hectares of land were planted with 65% of Sémillon and 35% of Sauvignon Blanc. We did not have this «white culture», so we fumbled for a little while, on wood volume, on agricultural techniques, on obvious questions about maturing, etc. At first, the sole consumers of this wine were members of our family, our friends, the Château staff. We did not want to append our signature on this vintage yet. Little by little we have managed to refine our methods and our palate. We were gradually calibrating it for white grape varieties and their blending. 1995 has seen the first wave of marketing which led to critical success, as they might say about an independent movie which draws a crowd for a whole week. Then, little by little, our work, our Chasse-Spleen signature has succeeded in persuading an increasing number of aficionados. Nowadays, we are asserting our aptitudes for the tasting process from the plant to the wine, and Blanc de Chasse-Spleen reaches out and competes with the best white wines from Bordeaux.
White wine: Blanc de Chasse-Spleen
|Area Under Vine:||103 hectares|
|Production:||300 to 350,000 bottles|
|Soil:||Garonne gravel on an asteriated limestone subsoil|
|Grape Varieties:||55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc|
|Ageing:||18 months for the first wine- New barrels : 40%|
|Second wine:||Oratorie de Chasse-Spleen|
32 Chemin de la Razé