Château Chasse-Spleen 1989
As I will be commencing my write-up on the Bordeaux 2007 primeur tastings tomorrow, I thought it only appropriate that I take a look at what mature Bordeaux is all about. This weekend I enjoyed the 1989 from Château Chasse-Spleen, and at a little under twenty years of age this wine is performing very well indeed, even if it is not in possession of a grand status or appellation. In fact, it gave sufficient pleasure for me to continue straight on and open a second bottle. I wonder if the 2007s will be fairing similarly well in twenty years time?
Having just passed through Moulis in the past few days, when attending the 2007 primeurs, I was struck by just how unremarkable the town was. The appellation is not huge either, at just 550 hectares, half of what the better known left bank communes possess. Looking at the INAO regulations for the appellation there are numerous lieux-dits listed, very few with more than one hectare to their name. Otherwise the regulations are pretty much the same as they are for any other appellation of the left bank, with yields limited to 45 hl/ha (although this is open to annual adjustment, and so should never be taken as an indicator of reality), the usual mix of grapes, planting densities and more. Nevertheless, despite the unremarkable nature of the commune, there are still very good wines made here. Château Chasse-Spleen can from time to time come good in this respect, helped no doubt by a predominance of gravel soils which account for much of the Chasse-Spleen vineyard, the remainder a chalky clay. And in a good vintage such as this, the wines can be a wise buy.
Today, the 1989 Château Chasse-Spleen has an unsurprising maturing hue, but it is still in possession of a good depth of red pigment. On the nose there is plenty of interest, as it shows aromas of rusty iron filings and violets. This is an attractive, mature perfume. The pleasure rolls on on the palate, which has a lovely style, gently tannic, and well integrated on the whole, with notes of dry, cedary wooden cabinets, but still with a little flourish of berry fruit which rounds out the nose as well. It has a slightly bitter presence, but is structured and clean. It is a wonderful food wine, showing a lean substance and a mildly complex flavour, with notes of violets, pepper and more. And it has a lovely, reserved textural quality. It finishes with a tannic, savoury flourish. The second bottle showed a little more substance, more flesh and weight, and also a more convincing tannic grip that suggests that this wine will continue to do well in the cellar for a few years yet. Overall, both bottles were very approachable and gave much pleasure, but they have a little more in the bank yet, with a persistence of tannins on the finish, especially when considering the second bottle. Overall, very good indeed. 17/20 (7/4/08)