Château Chasse-Spleen is a winery in the Moulis-en-Médoc appellation to the west of Margaux. It has long been viewed as the leading estate in that appellation – alongside Château Poujeaux – and is widely regarded, if not of being at cru classé standard, then certainly as holding a place among the top wines just beneath the classification.
It was selected as one of six Crus Exceptionnels in the Cru Bourgeois classification in 1932 and maintained that status until the annulment of the classification in 2007. The wines are prized for their well-balanced fruitiness across a range of vintages.
A second wine, L'Heritage de Chasse-Spleen, was known as L'Ermitage before 2000. L'Oratoire de Chasse-Spleen is the third wine. A white wine is also made, featuring around two-thirds Semillon to one-third Sauvignon Blanc.
The 80 hectares (200 acres) of vineyards are planted with around 70 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, mostly on gravel, and 25 percent Merlot in areas with a strata of clay under the gravel or with clay over limestone. The remaining five percent is planted to Petit Verdot.
Plantings are very dense at 10,000 vines per hectare. The different varieties are fermented in stainless steel or epoxy-lined concrete vats of 18,000 liters, and then aged for up to 18 months in barriques. The different components are then blended and fined with albumen, or egg whites - a traditional fining agent, before bottling.
The estate was formed in 1820, when the Grand Poujeaux estate was split into two parts: Poujeaux Gressier and Poujeaux-Castaing. The latter was renamed as Chasse-Spleen in 1863 following further divisions.
The name refers to the wine's quality and ability to "dispel the spleen", a phrase said to have been uttered by Lord Byron during his visit to Poujeaux-Castaing in 1821. The estate has also been linked to French poet Baudelaire, known for his main work, Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) which contains numerous works entitled "Spleen".
Although the estate cultivates poetic connections – recent labels bear snippets of poetry – there is unfortunately no concrete evidence either poet visited the estate.
The estate was purchased by Jacques Merlaut in 1976 and has been managed since 2000 by his granddaughter, Céline Villars.
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