Château Chasse-Spleen of AOC Moulis-en-Médoc with Jean Pierre Foubet, Managing Director
Jean Pierre Foubet is the managing director of and chief communicator for Château Chasse-Spleen, the best estate in Moulis appellation of the Médoc. His wife, Celine Villars-Foubet is the owner of the estate, and together they have brought this château to new heights in quality and prestige.
Photo: Jean Pierre Foubet. Credit: ROLAND COIFFE & ASSOCIÉS
According to Jane Anson, in her book “Inside Bordeaux”:
“One of the star estates of Moulis, Chasse-Spleen is one of only two that I can think of that would have a fair chance of being recognized if the 1855 ranking were to be carried out today”
With their modern outlook, but respect for tradition, they have kept the wine on a path of constant improvement. They have transformed their château into a natural and man-made paradise, one that marries tradition with modernity in the form of art. From the barrel room, to the grounds, to the art gallery, and the accommodations for guests, Chasse-Spleen is a model for how to bring a château into the 21st century.
Céline and Jean-Pierre’s personalities, hospitality, and passion show through and it makes the experience of the wines so special, as I found out when I had the pleasure of staying there and spending an evening sipping the unbelievable wine, eating a delicious meal, and having so much fun and many, many laughs with the two of them in 2022.
Jean Pierre joins to tell us about Moulis, Chasse-Spleen, and explains some things to me that I always wanted to ask!
Photo: Jean Pierre Foubet and me, June 2022. Credit: WFNP
Here are some of topics Jean-Pierre and I discuss:
Jean-Pierre talks about the Moulis-en-Médoc appellation, of which he is the head:
- The unique location at “elevation” in Médoc, 17 meters
- The soil diversity with gravel, clay, and composite soils, and how that yields a variety of wine styles
- How practices must be altered in the vineyard, not in the cellar to handle climate change
- How Listrac and Moulis differ, and why it makes sense that they eventually join as one appellation – and how there are three very strong Chateaux (“locomotives” as Jean-Pierre calls them –Chasse-Spleen, Grand Poujeaux, Maucaillou) which are famed all over Europe and carry the reputation for the 34 other châteaux)
Then we discuss Chasse-Spleen, an unofficial Grand Cru of the Médoc.
- Jean-Pierre tells us about the early history of Chasse-Spleen, the English origins of its name and its history of women ownership. We discuss some of the harder times in Bordeaux and touch on the difficulties of upkeep of a château.
- We talk about the terroir of Chasse-Spleen – its size (175 ha) and its large percentage of gravel in the vineyard, and how it plants to the soil (it is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon because that reflects how much gravel they have, and 30% Merlot on clay-limestone soils).
- Jean Pierre tries to explain the difference between second wines and other cuvees to me. He does it successfully for Chasse-Spleen (L’Ermitage de Chasse Spleen is an Haut-Médoc “other” cuvee, and L’Oratoire de Chasse Spleen is a true second wine). We leave with the conclusion that I may never know what is actually a second wine from other chateau because no one really knows!
- In the spirit of asking every question I’ve ever had about how Bordeaux works 🤣🤣, I ask about Chasse-Spleen’s consultant, Eric Boissenot. He is very well respected and known to be a champion of terroir, but I ask Jean Pierre how difficult it is to make sure that Eric helps them to make wine that represents their land and doesn’t taste like the other properties for which he consults. We also discuss the famed consultant, Michel Rolland, who is famed for helping chateaux and wineries devise wines that would get 100-point scores from Robert Parker.
- We discuss Chasse-Spleen’s wine and why it is so ageworthy. We talk about the 1855 classification, what it represents and what it doesn’t and how Chasse Spleen, despite being out of the ranking, sells far better than 5th growth Château Camensac, which the Villars -Foubet family also own. The conversation incorporates the decision for Chasse-Spleen to leave the Cru Bourgeois classification as well (many top châteaux left after the last round).
- We discuss their refreshing, lively white wine (mostly Sémillon) and Jean Pierre expresses skepticism about a potential Médoc Blanc appellation (I still think it’s a great idea!)
- We end my talking about Céline and Jean Pierre’s love of art and how they have incorporated it into Chasse-Spleen in creative and magical ways – from the life-like 3 meter high boots outside the Château, which help them remember that workers make the Château what it is, to the eclectic art collection, to the 3-D perspective painting in the chai (barrel room). If you are interested in staying at the Château, contact them here.
The Chai (pronounced shay) at Chasse-Spleen. Credit Chasse-Spleen
This was a great conversation with one of the top château of the Médoc. Once you try Chasse-Spleen, you’ll see why it is such a special wine, that rivals top Medoc wines.
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