Chateau Calon Segur vertical tasting – head & heart
I seem to be spending more time at the West London Wine School than at home these days… But when the tasting are so good then what harm can it do??
Following on from last week’s Riesling-fest, this week it was back to Bordeaux and to the 3er Cru Classe estate of Calon Segur in St Estephe. St Estephe is the northernmost of the four major appellations of the Medoc and are identifiable for their earthy minerality, due to the deep gravelly soils. Calon is the most northern classed growth estate and is highly regarded, at its best producing meaty and concentrated wines with deep fruit flavours and superb length. They are also often described as a bit rustic, which I find very appealing in a wine.
We tried 8 wines from some fantastic vintages and although I was a little disappointed overall, it was worth attending for the 1990 alone. Actually I’m being somewhat unkind with that statement as the 1982, 1989 and 2005 offered plenty of pleasure too.
Chateau Calon Segur 1982 (Fine & Rare £249.60)
Lots of terracotta colour and a bit murky with lots if sediment – it is over 30 years old now! From the vintage that saved Bordeaux (hence the ridiculous price tag!), the first sniff is red cherries, then black currant within hints of smokey meat and worn leather – it really does smell fabulous and ever so delicate. What is amazing is the structure of the wine; the tannins are still beautifully elegant and there is plenty of acid to balance it wonderfully. The flavours are very mineral and savoury, with lots of leather, just a whisp of red fruit and olive on the finish. So elegant, so delicate and quite delicious. 93 points
Chateau Calon Segur 1985 (Fine & Rare £91.80)
Lots of warming spices on the nose, with mineral, earth, leather and just a smidgen of black cherry. Deliciously smooth texture with some nice red fruit but mostly earth and smokiness. There’s lots of flavour upfront and a very nice texture but very little length. Disappointing. 88 points
Chateau Calon Segur 1988 (Fine & Rare £120.00)
A bit of orange around the edges but still looks very young to me. Quite a heady aroma of sweet cherry, spice and smoke, supported with that earthy mineral streak – very welcoming indeed… In the mouth its an elegant, light texture but you’re struck by very bitter red fruit, a smack of acid, and more bitterness. One of those wines that flatters to deceive, such a shame as I really enjoyed putting my nose in the glass. 87 points
Chateau Calon Segur 1989 (Fine & Rare £78.50)
Ooh this is big and concentrated on the nose with darker, almost cassis fruit and wild meaty and smokey, spicy leather. Much fuller in body than the previous wines with the black fruit of the Medic shouting out. Nice acidity and good tannic grip and a delicious mineral finish. Brutish but delightful and lovely balance. 92 points
(I really wanted to vote this as my best value wine of the night but see the 2005 to see why I didn’t – personally I’d buy a 1989, as would most of the other tasters!)
Chateau Calon Segur 1990 (Fine & Rare £135.60)
Deep, dark colour and here we get some new aromas of violets, black cherries and plums upfront, followed by the earthy minerality I’m learning to love. It has a voluptuous texture that coats your mouth with lots of black fruit, a hint of cedar, beautifully integrated oak and all underpinned by beautifully poised acid. A great balance of fruit and earth, acid and tannin. Superb. 95 points
Chateau Calon Segur 1996 (Fine & Rare £80.00)
Very dark and very dense with a higher proportion of Merlot than usual (40%). Blackberry and chocolate on the nose – very deep and highly concentrated. A blockbuster on the palate, dark liqueur-like cherry, chocolate and too much alcoholic heat. Very full on upfront then just withers to nothing. A shame as the Pichon 1996 was so good I had high hopes for this vintage of Calon. 88 points
Chateau Calon Segur 2000 (Fine & Rare £78.00)
Highly polished aromas with some very ripe cassis fruit, earth, spice and coffee. Very attractive. Nice body and smooth texture with dark fruit but the palate is very closed and the tannins kick in and dry out the finish. This needs more time but I think there will be plenty to enjoy given another 5 years or so. 91+
Chateau Calon Segur 2005 (Fine & Rare £62.10)
Big and bold with lots of dark and very sweet fruit on the nose with a delicious hint of smoke, spice and violet. Massively powerful wine with big body and chewy texture. Lots of cassis fruit and spicy notes. This is one for the long haul and is very modern in (Parker) style. There is no getting away from the fact this is a very fine wine but it could come from anywhere on the left bank and doesn’t have the sense of terroir – I can’t taste the gravel of St Estephe… More Parker than Calon? 93 points
(I had to vote this as my best value wine in a points vs. pounds equation… But my heart definitely said 1989!)