As a long time follower of Chateau Rauzan-Segla (R-S changed its name in 1994 from Rausan-Segla back to original spelling) from the Margaux appellation your scribe was pumped with anticipation for our Group of Eight Vancouver event #118 for dinner at Blue Water Cafe on January 23, 2024 – a vertical of ten vintages. Started with 1999 Rare Brut Millesime with an insightful article in the Finest Bubble here. During the seventies under the very restrictive listings of the British Columbia Liquor Board one of the few Bordeaux wines available for purchase was Rausan-Segla provided to them by exclusive negociant rep Eschenauer. Often from very poor vintages (72, 74, 77) with even the better years (70, 75, 78) showing rather disappointing lean austere wines having hard dry tannins but not enough pure fruit. My initial experiences questioned the quality of this property and IMHO R-S certainly didn’t deserve the high ranking Second Growth from the 1855 Classification. During this earlier period got to know David Orr & especially John Kolasa both at First Growth Chateau Latour in Pauillac and was surprised to learn in 1994 that they were joining the Chanel Group (Wertheimer family) who had just purchased R-S. As John Kolasa told me “we like the interesting new challenge plus are encouraged by the high reputation of R-S in 1855 and believe we can restore that”. Issues dealt with included Many visits over the years both in Vancouver & in Bordeaux with good friend John Kolasa until his retirement in 2015. Several memorable ones including two on November 17, 2008 for lunch including 2005, 2000, 1996, and 1983 at Blue Water Cafe (written up here by Jim Tobler in Montecristo on March 15, 2009) and dinner at West with a repeat of their spectacularly fragrant and beautiful 1996. Visiting R-S on June 16, 2011 John presented your scribe with a vertical from 2001 to 2010 inclusive for analysis and comment. The following decade has continued this raised level with a difficult but successful 2013 using only 39% of the crop in the Grand Vin (Second label Segla started in 1995) and 2016 a classic beauty. Impressed and admired the R-S wines clearly showing the substantial progress that had been made under his leadership and continuing to bring R-S back to deserved prominence. Well done!
Fun study with the first four wines at 5 year intervals. Some brief personal comments on the 10 vintages just studied:
2015 RAUZAN-SEGLA: Very dark primary modern almost a barrel sample backward at 14.5 abv with 63/33/3/1 of CS/M/PV/CF. Almost too big and powerful at this stage and presently prefer the more classic Margaux balance finesse of 2016. Potential.
2010 RAUZAN-SEGLA: Rich fruit purity of 37 hl/ha at 14 abv using only 45% of the crop in the Grand Vin that spent 18 months in 60% new oak shows brilliantly. Like the ripeness level and the smooth integrated tannins. John mentioned in 2011 that “2010 will be released at 84 Euros (2009 at 60E) and like the 1959 vintage with equilibrium, tannin & acidity.” Top of the flight!
2005 RAUZAN-SEGLA: A fav vintage of mine but this seems somewhat atypical. Less colour to the rim with elegant floral styling of riper red fruits at 13.5 abv. Lovely but an unusual year in that the high 39% Merlot in the blend was so late picked on October 21-24 & 27-28 (way after the other 3 grapes including high 5% PV were harvested end of September with Cab Sauv at 54% finishing up October 3-7).
2000 RAUZAN-SEGLA: Only 13 abv but note how the alcohol has creeped up 1/2 degree every 5 years from 2000- 2015. Only 51 hectares were planted (but expanded to 62 in 2010 with more Cab Sauv). Rounded mellow balanced with Margaux terroir and complexity while drinking superbly. Ian stated ” it showed more strawberry raspberry notes than usual cassis”.
1998 RAUZAN-SEGLA: Surprisingly dark but firm chunky with more acidity in two half bottles that varied but rather disappointingly dank & rustic. Lacking some of the Margaux power & elegance you look for.
1996 RAUZAN-SEGLA: Significantly longer and better quality cork than the others. One year after the first Segla second wine was produced in 1995. Again that special bouquet and fresh palate with elegance that it showed back in 2008. Excellent bottle.
1990 RAUSAN-SEGLA: LIghter look than 1998. No Segla made yet. Fleshy with nice spicy fruit flavours on the best plateau for drinking now. Not typically Margaux.
1989 RAUSAN-SEGLA: Much darker colour than 1990 with loads more fruit. Like the subtle elements of roses, sous bois, and classy herbs at 12.8 abv. Perfectly matching the duck course.
1986 RAUSAN-SEGLA: Excellent structure with energy still young. Solid at 12.5 abv. Anticipate this developing further into a wonderful bottle. Like several of these that have high quality Medoc fruit yet perhaps lacking a little in a specific terroir of R-S in Margaux definition. Know the big Cab Sauv statement of amazing powerful yet elegant Chateau Margaux & the plush attractive sensual higher Merlot of Chateau Palmer but less certain of what defines R-S. Probably still developing and coming around. Interesting.
1982 RAUSAN-SEGLA: Much lighter look and paling at 12 abv.. Sensational first smell complex flowers & licorice bouquet but rapidly dissipates with a drying leaner acidic palate. Not a top 82 now if it ever was. Robert Parker didn’t think so but John Gilman tried it in 2000 with laudatory comments and a 92 score here. Bottle variation of very old bottles yet again.
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