1996 Château Calon Ségur, St Estèphe, Bordeaux
Tasted at the chteau, the 1996 Calon Segur is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot. This was always a feted wine in its youth by Robert Parker and myself. Now at 20 years of age there is fine delineation on the nose with more detail than the 1986 tasted alongside. The oak is a little more present here (50% in this vintage) married with plenty of redcurrant, cedar, loam and undergrowth aromas.
These aromatics can develop further. The palate is medium-bodied with grippy tannin on the entry, perhaps one of the most youthful and backward of the 1996s that I tasted during my visits. It feels firm in the mouth, masculine, very Saint Estphe. To critique this wine, the oak is not quite knitted to the fruit as much as it should after two decades (something that has been addressed now). It is an enjoyable Calon-Segur if not quite matching up to my admittedly high expectations. Tasted July 2016.
Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (October 2016)
This is a wine with real punch. Deep crimson colour with some evolution at the rim. It spreads impressively and beguilingly over the palate. Very confident, typical St Estephe although it is not yet ready. Medium weight with relatively high acidity and still perceptible tannins. In no way sweet.
Jancis Robinson MW, jancisrobinson.com (October 2005)
He has gained weight, revealing even more flesh and depth than in 1997. The wine is opaque ruby/purple colored, full bodied, ferociously tannic and crammed with fruit and extract.This wine will require a decade of partience.This appears to be a profond classic muscular, and powerful Calon-Segur that will age effortlessly for 30-40 years.
Readers should remember that this estate possesses one of the greatest terroirs of Bordeaux, and produced a bevy of legendary wines in the twenties, late forties, and early fifties. Since then, it has been something of a hit or miss property, but under her administration, Madame Gasqueton has produced consistently outstanding wines. The 1996, a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, was made from extremely low yields of 35 hectoliters per hectare.
Drink 2006 - 2035
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (February 1998)
About this WINE
Chateau Calon Segur
Château Calon-Ségur, the most northerly of all the Médoc Grand-Crus Classés, is the château with a heart on its label. That is because the former owner, Marquis de Ségur, though he owned such Estates as Lafite and Latour, he declared "My heart belongs to Calon". For the last century it has been owned by the Gasqueton family.
Calon-Ségur's 74-hectare vineyard, which is partly enclosed by a wall, is located just to the north of the village of St-Estèphe. The vineyards (Cabernet Sauvignon 65%, Merlot 20%, Cabernet Franc 15%) lie on up to 5 metre deep gravel beds mixed with sand and, in parts, limestone and clay.
The wines are fermented for 3 weeks in enamel-lined steel vats and are then matured in oak barriques (40% new) for 18 months. Recently, Calon-Ségur has hit form with notable successes in 1995 and 1996 and 2000. At its best, Calon-Ségur produces meaty and concentrated wines displaying excellent depth of fruit and superb length. It is classified as a 3ème Cru Classé.
St Estèphe is the northernmost of the most important communes of the Médoc and borders Pauillac on its southernmost border, with only a gully and stream separates it from Ch. Lafite. To the north lies the Bas-Médoc.
St Estèphe is defined by the depth of its gravel, which is ubiquitous but of varying depths and occasionally very shallow, when clay predominates. This keeps the soil cooler and wetter than its counterparts so that the wines can appear fresh in lighter vintages, but superbly successful in hot, dry years.
The best châteaux in the south of the commune have the deepest soil and the thickest gravel. Cos d'Estournel has an exceptional terroir with its vineyards being located on a south-facing ridge of gravel with excellent drainage.
St Estèphe is the least gravelly of main Médoc communes and in the north of the commune the vineyards are heavier and more clay-based leading to a rustic style of wine being produced.
The wines can appear austere in youth with a discernable ferric note at some châteaux, but the best typically display good depth of colour, pronounced acidity an tannins in youth and are exceptionally long-lived. At their best, they are the equal of almost any Bordeaux. The well-regarded St Estèphe co-operative controls the production of about half the appellation.
Cos (Ch. Cos d'Estournel), Ch. Montrose, Ch. Calon-Ségur, Ch. Lafon-Rochet, Ch. Les Ormes de Pez, Ch. Beau-Site, Ch. Cos Labory, Ch. Phélan-Ségur
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.
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Ch. Calon Ségur, the most northerly of all the Médoc Grands Crus Classés, is the château with a heart on its label. That is because the former owner, Marquis de Ségur, though he owned such Estates as Lafite and Latour, declared, "My heart belongs to Calon." For the last century the Third Growth has been owned by the Gasqueton family.
After the success of the 1995 vintage, another classic wine from Calon Ségur. Full bodied, robust, with masses of sweet fruit, complex palate of dried herbs and Asian spices intermixed with truffles and chocolate overtones. This wine is a sensational effort, fully approachable now, but it will continue to improve with further ageing.
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