|Owner||Suravenir Assurance/ JP Moueix|
|Annual Production (Grand Vin)||20,000 cases|
|Classification||Troixième Crus (Third Growth)|
|Second Wine||Marquis de Calon|
|Interesting Fact||Calon Ségur enjoyed early success in China, as in Mandarin its name sounds like ‘flying dragon’, an auspicious symbol.|
A hint of the standing Calon Ségur once enjoyed is revealed by the heart motif that features on the wine’s label, a reminder of the assertion of its famous 18th century owner, Nicholas-Alexandre de Ségur: “I make wine at Lafite and Latour, but my heart belongs to Calon”. Over 500 years of history, there has been consistent quality here and from the 1990s onwards, Calon Ségur has been a name synonymous with good value, notably having won the Best Value for Money category for the 2009 vintage in the Liv-ex En Primeur Survey. Now there is once again a real buzz surrounding the estate, following its sale to French insurer Suravenir Assurances in summer 2012 and the 2016 vintage being awarded 95-97 points from The Wine Advocate at En Primeur. Prices of the chateau’s back vintages have been rising steadily since the 2012 sale of the estate.
To exploit the ‘potential’ that the estate holds there is significant on-going investment taking place at the estate in winemaking facilities, the Chateau itself and overall brand. All with the long term aim of raising wine quality and in turn, wine prices.
Calon Segur tends to have a strong opening 12-24 months of performance after En Primeur release Possibly triggered by prices being lowered for 2011 boosting investor confidence surrounding the estate and the correlated boost to secondary trading means prices across all vintages have continued to rise. This against a backdrop of market behaviour that has seen investors and traders increasingly turn towards more affordable, lower-ranking Crus Classes (Calon Ségur often seems to have classification amnesia, in recent years regularly outclassing Second-Growth Cos d’Estournel) and it shouldn’t be a surprise that vintages from 2000 onwards have consistently outperformed the Bordeaux 500 index’s trajectory, rising an average of over 13 percent (average annualised).
The wine produced here is structured, powerful and traditional, with a great propensity for ageing, shedding their robust mantle over a decade or two and rewarding patience with a rich and vibrant display of roast meat, cedarwood, herbaceous and sweet, jammy stone fruits.
Quality has been high at Calon Ségur throughout the 20th century. The highest RJP scored vintages of the estate’s history are from the interwar and post-war years (96-points in 1928, 1947 and 1953) ,though these are now very rare, and the 2016 (also 96-points). The 1970s and 1980s saw a dip in quality so vintages from those decades are less attractive prospects. From the 1990s Calon Segur began to see stronger consistency in the quality of each vintage. Particularly post-1995 with Calon Ségur 2000 actually scoring better than Cos d’Estournel 2000. In 2017 Neal Martin even declared the 2016 vintage “easily the best Calon Ségur that I have tasted from barrel”.
This chateau was once part of the sprawling Ségur estate that at a time encompassed Lafite, Latour and Mouton. In the 18th century Calon Ségur was the frontrunner in Saint-Estephe and commanded prices on a par with Lafite. At the beginning of the Gasqueton era at the turn of the 20th century, Calon-Ségur had been in a period of decline, but by the 1960s, the estate was once again standing shoulder to shoulder with its main rivals in Saint-Estephe - the Second-Growths of Montrose and Cos d’Estournel.
Phillipe Gasqueton died an old man in 1995, leaving the estate in a rather weaker position than when he claimed it. Phillipe’s widow continued at the helm 16 years until her death in 2011. Denise Capbern-Gasqueton was a beloved character in Bordeaux, who restored quality to a great extent- from 1995, the estate was back on top form with a reputation as one of the very best value Bordeaux labels, critics widely rating her 2000 vintage higher than that of Cos d’Estournel. Following her death however, more than a century of Gasqueton rule came to an end. The French insurer, Suravenir Assurances, sensing an opportunity to enrich their portfolio of investments finalised their purchase of Calon-Ségur in July 2012, with JP Moueix taking a minority stake. A transaction equivalent to around €2 million per hectare, the purchase broke all previous Bordeaux records.
Calon-Segur Price Analysis
Chateau Calon-Segur Pricing
Highest rated vintages for Chateau Calon-Segur
Like Certan de May, I bought this in both half and 750 ml bottles. Only recently have the half bottles reached full maturity, and the 750 ml remains a massive, backward wine for long-term aging. A dense, opaque garnet color is followed by notes of roasted meats, herbs, black currants, incense, and damp earth. Full-bodied, still extremely tannic (sweet but noticeable tannins), rich, and backward, where perfectly stored, this 1982 will last for another 50 years. The estate has always compared it to their 1947, which is still a vibrant wine, and the 1982 should be just as profound. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2040. Release price ($110.00/case)
Bottled in July, 2005, the saturated ruby/purple-colored 2003 exhibits a tightly-knit, but promising nose of mulberries, blackberries, cherries, and hints of new oak and truffles. This 60% Cabernet Sauvignon / 40% Merlot blend possesses a gorgeous texture as well as an expansive, exotic softness, and 13% alcohol (according to the proprietor, Madame Denise Gasqueton). Generous and rich, this high class, full-bodied wine will undoubtedly be more approachable than its closest spiritual sibling, the 1982. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2030.
The 2009 has the highest percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon (90%) ever included in a Calon-Segur (the rest is Merlot and Petit Verdot). Completely different from its St.-Estephe brethren, it is more backward and structured with a dense purple color, lots of black cherry, black currant, loamy earth, forest floor and spice notes, excruciatingly high levels of tannin, and a wonderful inner core of sweetness and concentration. It could behave like the 1982, which, at age 30, is just becoming mature. The 2009 is an uncompromising, masculine, massive style of wine that needs 15-20 years of cellaring even in this luscious, flashy, flamboyant vintage. It is super-tight and needs lots of coaxing and aeration. Anticipated maturity: 2025-2050+. Sadly, Madame Gasqueton, one of the great grands dames of Bordeaux, passed away recently. She was a no nonsense, always gracious lady who normally received me early in the morning, sometimes before the sun had even risen. I have many fond memories of her for her professionalism and her talent in making long-lived, traditional Bordeaux.
The 2010 is performing well,. With Cabernet Sauvignon dominating the blend, the wine has a dense plum/purple color along with notes of underbrush, black currants, plum, licorice, smoky charcuterie and some roasted herbs in the background. Full-bodied, moderately tannic and set for an extremely long life, this will not be a wine to please those looking for immediate gratification. Rather, I would suspect this wine will close down even further in bottle and, despite its full-bodied, powerful, massive size, it will need at least a decade of cellaring before it is accessible. This is another 2010 capable of lasting 35-50 years. This property has finally been sold to a syndicate involving a number of different elements, but given the greatness of this terroir, some fresh blood may ultimately push the quality of Calon Segur right up there with the likes of Cos d’Estournel and Chateau Montrose, the two reigning champions of this northern appellation.
The great Madame Denise Gasqueton, a Bordeaux icon whom I always visited early in the morning (8:15 a.m. for nearly 20 consecutive years), passed away on the first day of the 2011 harvest. The 2011 Calon-Segur is a fitting tribute to her extraordinary passion and love for this fabulous estate in the northern sector of St.-Estephe. A very strong effort (this property was untouched by the hail storm that swept through the area on September 1), it boasts an opaque purple color as well as surprisingly sweet tannin and abundant quantities of black cherry, black currant and dusty, loamy scents. Medium to full-bodied with beautifully integrated tannins and sensational purity and length, this super effort is a wonderful homage to the memory of Madame Gasqueton. Moreover, it is potentially one of the longest-lived wines of the vintage and should drink well for 25 or more years.
The 2013 Calon Segur is unquestionably one of the stars of the vintage. The harvest ran from early October for the Merlot grape and to the second full week of October for the Cabernet Sauvignon. I don't recall (although I'd have to go through all my notes for the last 3-4 years) a Calon Segur with this high a percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon, as Merlot has always been a prominent player in the final blend. It is opaque purple in color with a glorious nose of incense, creme de cassis, licorice and a touch of graphite. The wine is full-bodied, opulent, fleshy and surprisingly deep and dense, especially for a wine from this vintage. It is almost atypically thick and rich for a 2013. Nevertheless, the tannins are soft and the wine should be relatively approachable after 2-3 years bottle age. This is a property on the move, upward. Smart and shrewd readers will take a look at this vintage, as well as future vintages of Calon Segur, a terroir with true first-growth potential.
Calon Segur was purchased from the Gasqueton family by Suravenir, a large French insurance company. It is no secret that this is one of the greatest vineyards in Bordeaux, if not the world, and while the wines have always been impressive, there has always been considerable room for improvement. 2013 may mark an historic transition from a consistently excellent-to-outstanding wine, to one that is poised to be another potential first-growth of the Medoc. The yields were 36 hectoliters per hectare producing a final blend of 92 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot with an impressive natural alcohol level of 13.1%.
As I have said many times since I first tasted this wine, the 1995 Calon-Segur is one of the great sleepers of the vintage (I bought the wine as a future for a mere $250 a case). The wine has closed down completely since bottling, but it is a sensational effort that may ultimately merit an even higher score. The wine is opaque purple-colored. With coaxing, the tight aromatics reveal some weedy cassis intertwined with truffles, chocolate, and beef blood-like aromas. On the palate, there is an element of sur-maturite (1995 was an extremely late harvest at Calon-Segur), fabulous density and purity, and a boatload of tannin. This deep, broodingly backward, classic Bordeaux will require a decade of cellaring. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2035. Proprietor Madame Gasqueton (one of The Wine Advocate's heroines of 1997) has produced two unqualified back to back successes. Kudos to Calon-Segur, as both the 1995 and 1996 wines have a strong buy recommendation from me, but only for readers who have the patience to wait them out.
he 1996 may not be as profound as I had predicted from cask, but it is an exceptional wine. Dark ruby-colored, with a complex nose of dried herbs, Asian spices, and black cherry jam intermixed with cassis, it possesses outstanding purity, and considerable tannin in the finish. This classic, medium to full-bodied, traditionally made wine improves dramatically with airing, suggesting it will have a very long life. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2028.
A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, the totally closed 2005 Calon Segur is one of those traditionally made, backstrapping, uncompromising Bordeaux that will last 30-40 or more years. Its dense ruby color with purple nuances is followed by a nose that reluctantly offers up scents of damp earth, wood smoke, black cherries, cassis, and an exotic Asian spice character. The wine is formidably endowed and broodingly tannic, with noticeable acidity and a structured, nearly impenetrable mouthfeel. Nevertheless, it is easy to sense the weight, extract, and richness in this pure, deep wine. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2050.
Back when my bottle reports came out in 2003, I urged extreme patience for this wine, which is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc. I projected a maturity curve of 2012-2040, but based on this tasting, I would say the wine needs another 5-6 years, so call it 2016-2040+. One of the most unyielding wines in my tastings of the 2000s, the wine still has a very healthy, deep, dark ruby color, and earthy hints of herbs, licorice, and black currants. Medium to full-bodied, the hard, elevated tannins give this wine a certain austerity, but its outstanding weight, richness, and that very classic style argue for further discipline. Forget this for another 3-4 years and drink it over the following three decades.