Château Chasse-Spleen 2003
Region: Moulis en Medoc, Left-bank, Bordeaux, France
Grape: Cabernet-Sauvignon dominated blend with Merlot and Petit Verdot
Price: around $55
I need to go back in time a little since this bottle has a bit of a history, both old and recent. A few years ago, when I was still living in Paris, one of my good friends was sad. Actually she was depressed, quite intensely so. It is not easy helping depressed people; at least it isn’t easy for me, as I never know what to say. That’s why I decided not to say anything but do something instead. Now, in French, Chasse-Spleen means “chasing away sadness” or “chasing away melancholia”. According to legend, the name was coined by Lord Byron or Baudelaire, there are competing stories. In any case, I thought a couple bottles of this wine would be a good gift for my friend. If they couldn’t chase the sadness away, at least it would make her smile. So I went ahead, gave her this gift. She did smile, and I did keep a bottle for myself to remember that I can be a good friend sometimes.
Fast forward a few years to last weekend, I still have my bottle of Chasse-Spleen with me, now in Boston. Another friend, a person close to me will leave Boston next week. Saying goodbye sucks, and, as was the case before, I don’t know what to say. So, to send up my friend in style and chase away the sadness of a goodbye, I opened the Chasse-Spleen and shared it with her. It seemed appropriate.
Eye: deep garnet
Nose: Clean, medium + intensity, black fruits, plums, blackberries, hints of freshness (mint)
Palate: Dry, high acidity, full body, smooth tannins, long finish (black cherry)
2003 was a heat wave year in France and wines from this year usually show it. This one is no exception, there are a lot of cooked fruits aromas: blackberry, cherry and plum mostly. The wine still has high acidity and the tannins give it a bit of structure amid all the fruit. There are hints of oak, I got tobacco or mocha and I also found a hint of something refreshing like white mint. The finish is long with lingering aromas of ripe black cherries.
Food pairings: The wine was shared over cheese which was not a bad idea. Traditional Bordeaux pairing with lamb might be a good option too.
Overall opinion: I might be hard press to give a fair assessment of this wine given the emotional baggage coming with it. I was always going to like it, but I still believe it was a solid Bordeaux from a very warm year. Another good lesson for my study of Cabernet.