Inside La Place – Biodynamic & team spirit 

Denise Adams

Owner

Château Fonplégade

Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé


 

Gerda: Tell us about you…

Denise Adams: Farming has been my lifelong passion, deeply rooted in my childhood, while my love affair with wine has endured. Witnessing the transformation in the vineyard during the growing season, watching the vines come to life after pruning, is a wonderous gift from nature. As a trained painter and passionate enthusiast of cooking and gardening, I now channel all of my love and devotion into the art of crafting exquisite wines. I also relish the exciting world of property ownership, where I am engaged in winegrowing and winemaking, collaborating with La Place partners, traveling to promote Château Fonplégade, and joyfully extending a warm welcome to guests at the estate.

Gerda: What are the main challenges you personally face in the practice of your work?

Denise Adams: My vineyard is a constant presence in my mind, as I persistently seek ways to improve and attain perfection. I often wake up in the middle of the night with new ideas to pursue. Setting goals is crucial in life because, without them, we will likely miss out on valuable opportunities.

As an American in Bordeaux, I aim to create a cohesive and passionate team that feels like family. We work together toward common goals, which include an eagerness to learn, an open-minded approach, and an understanding of how to work with Americans, who like to think outside the box.

In my management style, honesty and integrity play a vital role, complemented by regular communication with my team. Each week, I send a comprehensive email to ensure all team members are included, fostering a sense of teamwork and active involvement. I prioritize an inclusive approach, ejecting top-down management, to assure every team member feels valued and engaged.


Harvest 2023

 

Gerda: Can you say a few words about the 2023 vintage? 

Denise Adams: Harvest 2023 is shaping up to be a beautiful vintage for Château Fonplégade, with a nice balance between quality and quantity, fresh fruit aromas and excellent extraction producing exceptional color. This is clearly a winegrower’s and winemaker’s vintage!  

As for the vineyard, we noticed distinct identities from each block, particularly on our clay and limestone soils – and we performed even smaller picks within each block for optimal results. The weather, however, required excellent preparedness and flexibility on our part.

In the cellar, we notice higher than normal quantities of tannin, which will demand great precision in vinification.  The alcohol levels are looking to be between 13.5 and 14% and we have one of the highest quantities on record, in general, and one of the highest qualities of Cabernet Franc.

We look forward to nurturing and watching this vintage develop over the next months.


The brand Fonplégade today and tomorrow

 

Gerda: What positioning do you want for your brand?

Denise Adams: Our ultimate goal is to create wine of unparalleled quality, surpassing all standards set before us. Meeting this objective entails more than just implementing exceptional vineyard practices; it also involves fostering a positive work environment for our staff. Yet, what it currently lacks is sufficient exposure to our remarkable story. Nestled amidst First Growths vineyards, we are exhilarated to witness the vineyards reclaiming their former glory through our biodynamic farming practices. This compelling narrative is one that we must share with a broader audience.

G: How do your wines