Château Chasse-Spleen is in Moulis, an unclassified appellation on the left bank of the Gironde River, in France’s Bordeaux region. The estate traces its history to the 16th century and its name translates as “dispels melancholy.” There have been many owners over the centuries, and it is now owned by a local syndicate of wine estates and run by Claire Villars. Despite lacking a classification the 200-acre estate produces wines considered Crus Exceptionnels, and it is generally thought of as the premier château of Moulis. Vineyards are planted to 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot. Some 28,000 cases are produced annually, with additional cases of the two second wines, L’Ermitage de Chasse-Spleen and l’Oratoire de Chasse-Spleen. Robert M. Parker Jr. calls the château “an outstanding property (which has) consistently produced fine wines that for the last three decades has often been as good as a third growth.”
Bordeaux is the world’s most famous fine-wine producing region. Even non-wine drinkers recognize the names of Bordeaux’s celebrated wines, such as Margaux and Lafite-Rothschild. Located near the Atlantic coast in southwest France, the region takes its name from the seaport city of Bordeaux, a wine trading center with an outstanding site on the Garonne River and easy access to the Atlantic. Like most French wine regions, Bordeaux’s first vineyards were planted by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago, then tended by medieval monks. Aristocrats and nobility later owned the region’s best estates and today estates are owned by everyone from non-French business conglomerates to families who have been proprietors for generations. Bordeaux has nearly 280,000 acres of vineyards, 57 appellations and 10,000 wine-producing châteaux. Bordeaux is bifurcated by the Gironde Estuary into so-called “right bank” and “left bank” appellations. Bordeaux’s red wines are blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. It also makes white wines of Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. There are several classification systems in Bordeaux. All are attempts to rank the estates based on the historic quality of the wines.