Chasse Spleen 2000

Bordeaux can produce some of the finest wines in the world. However, they also make some pretty boring entry-level wines, which may be inexpensive but offer no value for money. Thankfully there is a level of quality wines in between the ridiculously expensive and the cheap dross. The wonderfully named Chasse-Spleen is not an inexpensive wine but it does deliver good value, especially if you are looking for a bottle to splash out on.

The Château is located in Moulis en Médoc, between the prestigious appellations of Saint Julien in the North and Margaux in the South. The earliest records for the property indicate that there were already vines planted on the estate in 1560. However, Chasse-Spleen itself does not come into existence until the 1860s, unfortunately missing out on the 1855 classification*.

The name itself has two popular theories associated with it: the first is that Byron was travelling to Seville from London and after tasting the wine, he remarked that it was a “remedy for chasing away the spleen”. The other is that the name came from Charles Baudelaire’s poem ‘Spleen’. He had visited the estate whilst staying with Odilon Redon, a friend and illustrator of ‘Spleen et idéal’. This poetic theme has recently been carried over to the labels, with a different quote from a different poem appearing above the label each vintage: the 2000 is a quote from Baudelaire’s aforementioned poem “J’ai plus de souvenirs que si j’avais mille ans”, I have more memories than if I was 1,000 years old.

The estate is run by Jean-Pierre Foubet and his wife Céline Villars-Foubet, and it is part of the powerful Taillan group, headed up by Jacques Merlaut, Céline’s grandfather (the group owns several Bordeaux estates and wineries throughout France).

The vineyards are close the village of Grand Poujeaux and the soils are a mix of gravel and chalky clay. The vines themselves are predominately Cabernet Sauvignon (73%), followed by Merlot (20%) and Petit Verdot (7%). The grapes are hand-harvested and vinified in a combination of stainless steel and cement vats, the wine is aged in French oak barrels (40% new) for between 12 to 14 months.

The 2000 Chasse-Spleen would have been one of Jean Pierre and Céline’s first vintages, as they only took over the Chateau in 1999. It was a great start for them, as 2000 was one of Bordeaux’s best vintages and the start of a run of excellent vintages throughout that decade.

*A classification made by the local merchants (‘negociants’ and ‘courtiers’) at the behest of Napoleon III for the Exposition Universelle being held in Paris that year. They ranked the Left Bank of Bordeaux into five ‘Crus’ or ‘Growths’ based on the trading price at the time.

Tasting Note Flower DayFlower Day
The 2000 Chasse-Spleen is still very tight and needs a couple of hours decanting beforehand. However, once it has opened up the nose is very intense with aromas of rich blackcurrant, tobacco leaf, cedar and evidence of some secondary development. The palate is medium-bodied with a lovely dense texture (quite weighty). The tannins are still pronounced, but beginning to soften and the acidity provides an attractive freshness to the wine with a hint of green pepper on the finish. This is a wine that is starting to show beautifully but will continue to improve in bottle for at least another eight years. It is a perfect match for Beef Wellington, or other hearty red-meat dishes.

January 2012

Chasse Spleen 2000
Country: France
Region: Moulis en Médoc, Bordeaux
Vintage: 2000
Alcohol: 13%
Grape Variety:
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot
Where To Buy:
Harrods, Farr Vintners,
Fine + Rare,
Tags: Wine of the Fortnight, France, Chasse Spleen, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Bordeaux, Red Wine