In 2000, Dany and Michel Rolland, still seeking out quality and new experiments, placed plastic sheeting on the soil between the rows of vines on some plots in Château Fontenil to prevent rain penetration during the month preceding the harvest.
With all the care taken on the vineyard, on the beautiful rolling terroir of the Fronsac appellation, the Fontenil grapes provide powerful wines with ripe, harmonious tannins – especially in dry years.
The richness of the soil was not widely known, so it seemed to be a good idea to show its potential by giving nature an (experimental) helping hand in rainy years.
The INAO (National Institute of Appellations of Origin) considered that this practice could lead to the terroir being modified and that the resulting wine could not have the appellation, but would be called “Vin de Table” (table wine).
The experiment was renewed over three vintages, 2000, 2001 and 2004 and each time the results were conclusive, giving the grapes riper tannins, better sugar/acidity balance and unequalled density, suppleness and style to the wines.
Today “Défi de Fontenil” remains the top cuvée, with limited production, still a “vin de table”, justifying its name – a true challenge!
Top of the range care in the vineyard, production and ageing worthy of a Grand Cru, distilling the essence of the vineyard…