Published the Nov 03 2017 in "One to Wine's Story"
One to wine has been looking for the best winemakers around France for a long time to bring them to you. Among them, let us introduce you to the Château Fonréaud owned by the Chanfreau family for three generations.
To understand their wines better, it is important to learn a bit about the terroir, cellars and the people who make them.
Fonréaud is one of our most appreciated estate in the UK, maily for their capacity of producing a great full bodied Bordeaux, but yet will a very silky mouth and melted tanins that makes it very easy to drink.
The History of the Château is also interresting. Starting with the name, “Fonréaud”, called “Font-réaux” for centuries which meant “Royal Fountain”. The legend says that in the 12th century, the King of England and husband of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II Plantagenet, stopped here to quench his thirst and drank from a spring of cool water. The spring still exists in the park today.
The Cellar as we know it nowadays has been built by the Chanfreau family.
In 1962, Léo Chanfreau and his family returned to France from Algelia. He visited many wineries, and fell in love with Fonréaud. There was a lot of work to be done: the vineyard covered only 17 hectares of very old vines and the venerable oak barrels in the fermentation cellar were doomed to destruction.
Léo replanted the vines, built a concrete fermentation cellar, that they still use today, and undertook major work in the Château.
Unfortunately he did not live long enough to finish his work, as he was the victim of a tractor accident in 1970. His father, Marcel Chanfreau, who lived at Château Lestage, took over until Jean, who was only a child when his father died, qualified as an agronomy engineer and came to live in Listrac.
Jean Chanfreau became the manager of the estate in 1978, at the age of 20. In 1985, the work to finish the château and optimise the vineyard began. It took six years, during which the birth of four children, Guillaume (1984), Loïc (1986), Tiphaine (1987) and Juliette (1991), added to the joy of Jean and his wife Marie-Hélène.
The family worked hard to achieve being one of the prestigious Union des Grands Crus du Médoc. However, the terroir and location of the vineyards is a huge plus.
The terroir covers a privileged location, on the high gravel terrace of the Médoc. Ideally located halfway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gironde estuary, this terrace of Pyrenees gravel, overlooking the Médoc, ensures a unique microclimate and optimal drainage conditions. These are decisive factors for grape ripening and quality
They are planted with typical Médoc grape varieties, depending on the type of soil they are planted in. Cabernet Sauvignon, is the key variety in dry and deep gravel soils, it is the soul of their wines, with its aromas of black fruit, liveliness and structure. Merlot, planted in more nourishing soils, brings fruitiness, smoothness and flesh. Petit Verdot, at ease in warm soils, lends intense colour and spicy touches.
The cellar, built in the 17th century, is half buried to keep a constant temperature. This added to their state-of-the-art winemaking techniques, offers their wines a perfect environment to produce one of the best Grand Cru. Moreover, they use French oak barrels, where the wines are maturing for about a year.