The vineyards of Fronsac and Canon Fronsac are laid out on hillsides and high plateaus that overlook the Dordogne River. The Isle River, a tributary of the Dordogne, forms the eastern boundary of the appellation. Together the two appellations have 1130 hectares under vine. This is slightly more than Pomerol and one fifth the amount planted in Saint Emilion. The region is not without its historical claims and had an established reputation for exceptional wine making by the 18th century.
Chateau Villars has been owned by the Gaudrie family since the beginning of the 19th century with Jean Claude and Brigitte Gaudrie and their three sons representing the fifth and sixth generations. Jean-Claude’s son, Thierry, is now in charge of production and he brilliantly carries forward the same tradition of quality that won his grandfather Octave a gold medal in 1907. The hillside property faces southwest and the soil is chalky clay over “Fronsac” sandstone. The vines are an average age of 35 years and are planted to 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Thierry has worked a great deal on matching grape plant varieties and root stocks with the variety of soils and slopes he has throughout his vineyard. Harvesting is done in stages to allow each vineyard block to reach full maturity. After careful bunch selection (in 1996 50% of the harvest was declassified), the grapes are vinified in traditional cement vats and undergo an extended maceration of up to 4 weeks. Each vat is tasted throughout the month of November and a rigorous selection is made for Chateau Villars before the wine is put in barrels during the month of December. The remaining vats are used to produce the other two labels of the chateau. The wine is aged in barrel, one third new for 10 to 14 months. The wine is fined with egg whites but not usually filtered.