Château de Fontenille is located in the Entre-deux-Mers. Located between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers, the Entre-deux-Mers region stands East of the largest department of France, the Gironde (over 10,000 km2). The 47,000 ha of classified AOC vines that it comprises form one of the most famous vineyards in the world.
‘Entre-deux-Mers’ comes from the Latin “Inter duo maria” that is to say between two tides. Indeed, this name is related to the influence of the tides that go up the course of the Dordogne and Garonne rivers via the Gironde estuary. The Mascaret, tidal bore, is a wave formed by the shock between the rising tide and the flow of the rivers.
The Entre-deux-Mers is a verdant land that ripples from ridges to hills,from hills to valleys. It is usually called ‘Bordeaux Tuscany’.
The history of the Abbey of the Sauve Majeure dates back to 1079 when a Benedictine monk, who later became Saint Gerard de Corbie, founded Notre Dame de la Sauve Majeure in the heart of a vast forest in the Entre-deux-Mers. The expansion of the abbey was possible thanks to the support of the Duke of Aquitaine and of the proximity of the ‘Santiago de Compostela’ way. In the 12th century its reputation is at its peak. The abbey is at the head of 70 priories divided between England and Aragon.
Under the impetus of the Church, the vineyard developed as early as the 12th century. Daily consumption of the monks, trade with England, the needs are great!
The Benedictine abbey of La Sauve-Majeure plays a decisive role in clearing hillsides, well exposed to implant the vines. That’s when the adventure of the Entre- deux-Mers vineyards begins, as well as Fontenille’s, located right next to the Abbey.
In the 4th century, when the poet Ausone praised the wines of the region, rose at a place called ‘Font e melha’ a Roman villa where scattered ruins remain. The vine was already there.
The vines are already mentioned in 1290 in a lease to Fontemilles In the 15th century, Domaine de Fontemilles is reported in the archives of the Abbey of La Sauve Majeure and its land was attached to the Abbey until the 17 th century.
Two types of soils coexist in Fontenille. The first one is made of soils protected from alluvial deposits, old, consisting of gravel clay on limestone. These warm, poor soils facing South and West are particularly suitable for red vines. The second one,
consisting of often gravelly loams called ‘boulbène’, are colder soils, well adapted to the production of fruity wines like the white and rosé thanks to a slow ripening end.
Another peculiarity of the Fontenille terroir is to be located at the boundary of the watershed between the Garonne and the Dordogne rivers. This unique situation at an altitude of 105 meters allows us to have good air circulation and therefore low pressure of fungal diseases.
At Fontenille we are anxious to continuously improve our environmental performance. Since 2012 we have been involved in the first association for the Environmental Management System (SME) of Bordeaux wines, ISO 14001 certified.
We are committed to reducing the environmental impact of the company. This is reflected in energy consumption, preservation of water resources, methods of cultivation and protection of the vineyard, sorting and recycling of waste, inputs, health protection of employees, residents, consumers, the integration of good practices … Today, all our growing practices are of sustainable agriculture: quite simply we treat against diseases or pests only if it is considered necessary. This type of practice implies that chemical pesticides are avoided and replaced by ecological methods that respect biodiversity and stimulate the natural defenses of the vine. We have set up a monitoring by an independent company that helps us with our choices and accompanies us for this ecological transition.
Since 2017 we are certified HEV3 (High Environmental Value) The farm environmental certification is a voluntary approach which aims to identify and promote particularly environmentally-friendly practices applied by farmers. HEV covers four key areas : biodiversity conservation, plant protection strategy, management of fertiliser use and management of water. In order to engage the whole agricultural sector in an approach focused on environmental progress, it is designed on the basis of certification of the whole farm at three levels. The third or “high environmental value” level is based on performance indicators. Farm certification, which enables farmers to label their products with a value statement “from farms certified as having high environmental value”, guarantees a farm’s high
level of environmental performance.
Château de Fontenille : 67 plots, each one unique. The vineyard covers 56 ha including 20 ha of white vines and 36 ha of red vines.
It is divided between silcieous clay and fine gravel. Merlot is a grape that gives round and unctuous wines with aromas of black fruits such as black cherries, blackberries and blackcurrants. It also gives notes of truffle, violet, plum, chocolate. He brings to the wines a lot of color.
It expresses the soils of deep gravel. It gives powerful and tannic wines with the varietal expression of black berry aromas on youth (blackcurrant, blackberry), and aromas of musk and leather on the evolution. By controlled yields, Cabernet Sauvignon gives wines whose tannic character is developed by aging, in new oak barrels. After a few years depending on the vintage, the wine takes on complex aromas: cedar, spices and blackcurrant.
Devoted to clay-limestone soils covered with fine gravel. It has a less colorful color than Cabernet Sauvignon. On our terroirs, it gives a wine with aromas of tobacco, raspberry, cassis and violet. Cabernet Franc produces balanced wines with sweet tannins and controlled acidity. In Fontenille it is a majority in the assembly of our rosés.
Sauvignon (51%) dominates the silt covered with fine gravel. Sauvignon has the very characteristic aromas of its terroir.
At Fontenille, it develops aromas of citrus fruit, flowers, lemony white fruit and black currant. We’ve planted Bordeaux clones, but also clones from the Loire and Sancerre region for more complexity.
Muscadelle (22%) planted directly South in the town of Capian and at the boundary of the watershed on Fontenille land, this grape gives musky and floral notes very distinctive to our whites.
Sauvignon gris (11%). Typical of Bordeaux, it results from the gray alteration of Sauvignon Blanc with a slightly pinkish color when ripe.
Powerful, full-bodied wines with elegant aromas of flowers and muscat passion fruit and lychee flavors. The taste reveals aromas of menthol and orange. This exotic note brings a nice freshness.
Sémillon 16%. Sémillon does not have the same aromatic punch as Sauvignon.
However, it has great potential to age in the bottle, with a distinct development on mineral notes. It brings roundness, fat and structure to the wines. This variety lives for a very long time. At Fontenille, our ‘Cuvée Vieilles vignes’ (old vines) comes from a plot planted in 1949.
The average arithmetic age is 22, but it does not give much indication.
The oldest vines were planted in 1949 and in the most recent years.
Our quest for quality starts at this very moment of plantation. When planting, we choose a varietal, a clone and a rootstock according to the history, soil type, orientation and analyses. This reflection is essential to have the best expression of the possible terroir that characterizes us. A plantation commits us for minimum 30 years, maybe for more than 50 years according to the selected grape varieties. It is therefore an important intergenerational choice.
The density of plantation (the number of vines per hectare) plays an important role in the quality of the grapes obtained: At equal production, a higher density will bring vigor and individual production of the weaker strains, a better feeding of the grapes,earlier maturity, higher concentration of anthocyanins and polyphenols in general.
The majority of our vineyards are planted North / South to take advantage of the
sunshine and capture the light, while taking into account the topography of the land.
Since 2005, we have made every effort to work without the use of chemicals for the cultivation of our vines. So, we have invested in the necessary tools, but also in the training of our tractor drivers.
The soil is a biological activity support that provides the vine with the water and mineral elements necessary for its development. It contributes, to a large extent, to the qualitative expression of our wines. Soil maintenance is necessary, especially to eliminate weeds.
As soon as the harvest is finished, we are already thinking of the next one and, of the first important operation: the pruning of the vine. Indeed, the selection and training of the pruning workers is decisive for the quality of our wines. This operation alone ensures the production of the year, controls the development of the vine and limits the lengthening of the strain. It is a complex operation, requiring observation,reflection and precision.
Removal of some of the buds left in the woods or young shoots that come from it.
This operation allows a better distribution of grapes bunches and foliage.
Removing the suckers from the base of the vine, the trunk and the regrowths from the rootstocks.
The advantages are : easier pruning and less wounds, limitation of the risks of contamination by the mildew, and removal of the shoots competing for the grapes bunches.
Removal of the doubles (shoots from the conter-buds) Limitation of the overcrowding of the vegetation. Reducing the number of grapes bunches .
Lifting and replacing of the shoots on the trellis system and stappling of the tying up wires.
After tying we remove the very end of the shoots to limit the development of the vine and allow the tractors to drive along without breaking the shoots. Trimming has an influence on the foliage surface of the vine therefore on the balance between the grapes bunches and the foliage. The foliage surface is important because it allows to have sufficient foliage surface to increase photosynthesis and thus maturity.
At Fontenille the foliage is 1.40 m high and the distance between the rows is 2 m. For technicians it means a 0.47 coefficient.
Removing the leaves around the grapes bunches.
Improve the exposure and the sanitary condition of the grapes bunches.
Improve the quality of the wines.
Removing the bud and leaf between the grapes bunches.
Better airing , exposure and feeding of the grapes bunches.
Increase the foliage efficiency.
Removing a part of the grapes bunches.
This operation is temporary, done when the previous one could not meet the objectives set before.
It increases the quality and sanitary condition of the grapes. It controls the yield.