About this WINE
An 8.5 hectare property that was established in 1986 when renowned husband and wife oenologists Michel and Dany Rolland purchased several neighbouring vineyard plots in Fronsac in the Libournaise. Fontenil was the lieu-dit of one of these plots and became the name for the new estate. It is situated in the commune of Saillans and overlooks the River Isle and the picturesque town of Libourne. The vineyards (85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon) are predominantly south-facing and planted on soils rich in sandstone, limestone and clay.
The grapes are hand harvested at optimum ripeness and are totally destemmed before being fermented in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks. The wine is then aged in oak barriques (75% new) for 18 months. It is bottled unfiltered.
Fronsac and its premium wine sub-appellation Canon-Fronsac lie in a serene landscape on the northern banks of the Dordogne, to the east of Libourne. Due to its proximity to that town and, thus, the presence of the major houses of Pomerol (most notably Jean-Pierre Moueix), the wines are considered to offer a good-value alternative to that appellation. In fact, in terms of style, the wines probably have more in common with St Émilion, having a fresh, crisp-fruit profile from clay and limestone soils, dominated by Merlot.
Only about half a million cases are produced in Fronsac, with Canon-Fronsac, from vineyards only around the villages of Fronsac and St Michel de Fronsac, contributing a further 150,000 cases. J-P Moueix owns or manages several properties in the region, the renowned oenologist Michel Rolland owns Ch. Fontenil, and Ch. du Gaby is also highly recommended.
Recommended Châteaux : Ch. Fontenil, Ch. du Gaby, Ch. Canon
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.