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Château Fonbadet

Château Fonbadet

The grander the commune, the fewer small estates you seem to find within it. This certainly seems to be true of several of the great communes of the left bank, such as St Julien and Pauillac. Each is blessed with a myriad cru classé estates (well, eleven and eighteen respectively, to be precise) but beyond that there are few names here to remember. There does not seem to be the wealth of cru bourgeois domaines we find in Margaux and St Estèphe.

One reason for this might be, I suppose, the grandeur of the terroir, which quite rightly is all classified as cru classé territory. That makes sense, of course, until we remember that this isn’t Burgundy; it is not the land that is classified, but the château. And this throws up a more cynical (but rather more plausible) explanation; there is a paucity of cru bourgeois domaines here because, as proprietors aged and families decided to sell up, these little vineyards were snapped up by their wealthier neighbours, and absorbed into these much larger estates. One day it was a little cru bourgeois domaine bringing a touch of diversity to the commune, the next it is gone, now merely parcel number 78 in the vineyard of a neighbouring premier grand cru classé.

Château Fonbadet

Resisting the temptation to sell up (bearing in mind that vineyard land in Pauillac is extraordinarily valuable, so that any vendor of more than a few square metres is likely to find themselves an instant millionaire) must require steely determination. Nevertheless, there is indeed a secret network of cru bourgeois and cru artisan domaines where the property remains steadfastly in family hands, while powerful neighbours look on. Château Fonbadet, which sits on the west side of the main road running through the appellation, is one such estate.

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