Vinmøte Jon 18.4.12:
Moden og myk vin. Aromatisk og tendens mot sur-søt frukt, jeg var nesten sikker på at dette var en Barolo ! Uren i stilen, siden den var helt uten tanniner nå var de fleste på østside. 91 poeng.
Although clearly in the ascendant, quality seems to have stepped up another gear in more recent vintages. Looking in particular at 2009 and 2010, the quality of wine seems appropriately high. And I do not think this is merely a vintage effect; yes, a rising tide will lift all boats, but Rauzan-Ségla put some distance between itself and the rest of the Margaux pack in 2009, comfortably claiming third place behind Margaux and Palmer, no mean feat in any vintage. The only downside to my mind was the special one-off label, a commission from Karl Lagerfeld in order to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the creation of the original Rauzan estate by Pierre Rauzan.
Actually, I perhaps shouldn't be too critical of the label. I can understand the desire to celebrate 350 years of history, and what better way to do it through a special one-off label? It seems good enough for the Rothschilds, who commemorated 100 and more recently 150 years since Baron Nathanial acquired Brane-Mouton in 1853 with special labels for the 1953 and 2003 vintages ofMouton-Rothschild. And who else would the Wertheimer brothers ask to design their label than their in-house pet designer, Lagerfeld? And, to be fair, it could have been a lot worse; take a look at the bling some Champagne bottles are dressed up with by designers of Lagerfeld's stature - leather corsets, fur, diamonds and the like - and we should in fact be grateful that Lagerfeld restricted himself to the child-like crayon drawing (pictured above) of the château.
As for the 2010 vintage, this was also of very high quality, although was very highly priced - with a 40% increase on the already expensive 2009 release price - enough to invoke some criticism from the wine trade, including négociant firm Barrière Frères who publicly announced they would be rejecting their allocation. Kolasa's response was firm and yet also telling, alleging that criticism based on high prices could be levied against all Bordeaux châteaux, but he went on to say "I'm a bit annoyed myself that prices are so high but as the representative of the owners I've had to follow the line". This statement seems to be a clear and outspoken criticism of Bordeaux prices, including those set by his employers the Wertheimers, which is clearly where he lays the responsibility for the 2010 prix de sortie. I imagine there were a few intense debates when Kolasa and the Wertheimers set the 2010 release price.....and also quite possibly after Kolasa made his provocative statement!
The Vineyards and Wines of Rauzan-SéglaThe vineyards at Rauzan-Ségla account for 62 hectares of the Margaux appellation, although the estate in its entirety covers 75 hectares. Kolasa and his team have given the vineyards as much attention as they have the cellars, and there has been extensive replanting and also expansion. Starting out with about 52 hectares of vines planted at 6000 vines per hectare, about half of this has now been replanted at a density of 10000 vines per hectare. There was also the purchase of a further 10.5 hectares, including 1.5 hectares from Alesme-Becker nearby Margaux, and 9 hectares from Château de la Bourgade in Arsac, the fruit of which will contribute to the second wine, bringing them up to their current total. One result of these developments was a fall in the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon, from 61% to the current 54%, and a rise in the percentage of Merlot from 35% to 41% (although obviously, with the expansion of the vineyards and increased density, there is much more of each variety in absolute terms). The Cabernet Franc fell from 2% to 1% and Petit Verdot was added to the mix, this variety now accounting for 4% of the vineyard, a decision made in the light of historical data indicating that this variety was once a significant component in the vineyard.
The soils here are the typical Gunzian gravel of the Médoc, and the vines see meticulous care during the growing season, with leaf-thinning and green harvesting as required. As indicated above the fruit is now harvested manually into small trays, Kolasa having put an end to machine harvesting, and then in the reception area passed over one sorting table, a destemmer and than a second sorting table. The fruit is then pressed and transferred by gravity rather than pumping to temperature-controlled stainless steel vats for the fermentation. Following this the wine will then go into barrel, the proportion of oak that is new each vintage now between 50 and 60%, and it remains here for up to twenty months with a traditional approach to racking, undertaken every three months. The finished wine sees an egg-white fining, and is bottled unfiltered.
The grand vin is Château Rauzan-Ségla, of which there are typically 10-12000 cases produced per annum. The blend is typically 55-68% Cabernet Sauvignon with 32-40% Merlot with minor contributions from Cabernet Franc and/or Petit Verdot. Rigorous selection is essential, ensuring that only the choicest portion of the harvest goes into the grand vin, the rest going into the second wine, Ségla, of which there is also about 12000 cases per annum. This has helped to push quality further forward - in 1987, for instance, the entire crop was declassified, with the whole production being channelled into the second wine, or sold off in bulk.
Château Rausan-Ségla (Margaux) 1982: I wasn't expecting much from this wine; several sources of information suggested that this was a rather mediocre example of 1982, with Broadbent describing it as "lean and piquant" back in 1991. Hmmm. Great fill on this bottle, within a centimetre of the cork; this comes from a trustworthy source and has impeccable provenance. Lovely mature mahogany colour in the decanter, having decanted it off a very light sediment. Lovely nose, mature and meaty, a little caramel sweetness and a bloody, black olive note. Medium bodied, elegantly textured, certainly not lean. If anything quite a full midpalate, although with spicy, peppery acidity providing quite an edge. A fine, mature quality, ending with an appealing, meaty, somewhat chalky flourish. Very good indeed. Holding well, but lovely to drink now.
Château Rausan-Ségla (Margaux) 1982:A dense purple-mahogany wine. This wine has a nose of dense and chewy fruit, with some toffee and caramel notes. There is clearly less style here compared to the first three wines. Lots of fruit on the palate, with some floral and tobacco notes. Some spicy tannins and fair acidity. Not quite as impressive as the previous wines, with less character. 17.5/20 (November 2001)