The vineyard of Château Fonplégade is ideally situated on the south hillside of Saint-Emilion. With an aspect that allows for ample sunshine, this sloping location also contributes to the well-drained nature of our soils. Because grapes realize their full potential when challenged by moderate water stress, these well-drained soils ensure that our vines thrive in years with more precipitation. In turn, the deep water that feeds our famous fountain provides just enough moisture to sustain the plants and extend the growing season in hot, dry years. At Fonplégade, providence has blessed our 18.5-hectare estate with soils of rare and perfect composition for growing world-class Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The terroir of our vineyard offers seven levels of flat and terraced vineyard sections, as well as three distinctive soil types (limestone, clay and sand), each of which imparts its own distinctive expression of minerality to our wines.
Building on this natural diversity, Château Fonplégade is intimately farmed as a tapestry of 27 individual vineyard blocks, each featuring various clones, rootstocks, soil types, planting densities and vine ages. With more than 10 clones of Merlot, and an average vine age of more than a quarter century (with our oldest vines dating back to 1954), the wine grapes of Château Fonplégade provide an artist's palette of aromas and flavors for our winemaking team. Though our lovingly tended old vines are a source of great pride, and a key element in creating nuanced and sophisticated wines, we actively replant sections of our vineyard when necessary to ensure the highest standards of quality. As our vineyard has evolved, we have transitioned to the most beneficial modern viticultural practices, with an emphasis on clonal selection, high-density planting of 8,500 vines per hectare, advantageous row directions and green harvests to ensure ideal fruit development. These practices are combined with a meticulous hands-on approach to farming that sees every vine touched by a human hand a minimum of 10 to 15 times each growing season.
In addition to our transition to organic farming, which was certified "Agriculture Biologique" by ECOCERT in early 2013, the other great contribution to the exceptional quality of our grapes has been our focus on low yields. Since 2003, we have emphasized fewer clusters per vine, and smaller grape clusters, reducing overall yields by approximately 30 percent. The result is perfectly balanced vines filled with pristine clusters of richly flavored grapes.