The Chanel Estates:

Chateaux Rauzan Ségla and Canon Vertical

Luxury goods house Chanel owns one Left Bank and one Right Bank estate, both classified properties that are starting to reap the benefits of serious and sustained investment. 2014 has seen the arrival of a new technical director in Nicolas Audebert, working alongside long-time director John Kolasa, and due to take over following Kolasa's expected retirement after the 2015 harvest.

 

 

Rauzan Segla

11 year vertical 2003-2013, tasted at the chateau December 16 2014

 

Over the past decade, Rauzan has gone from 52 hectares in 2003 to 66 hectares today, and will go up to 72 hectares next year as more of the new plot Boston comes into play. This new plot is also the site for the estate's experimentation with organic farming. The consultant was Jacques Boissenot in 2003 and now (since 2008) his son Eric Boissenot.

 

Chateau Rauzan Segla AOC Margaux 2nd Cru Classé 2003

53.3% cabernet sauvignon, 40% merlot, 5% petit verdot, 1.5% cab franc, 12.5%abv.

Beautiful colour, starting to leach out a bit but still lovely deep purple on the core with edges starting to soften. Can feel the heat of the year, get some dried figs, exotic fruits, dates, kirsch, but also leather, truffle and the more classic older Médoc markers, suggesting that this is far more than just a 'heatwave wine'. This has still a lovely backbone. I would suggest that it can age even further, which is not the case with all 2003s, but very enjoyable to drink now, all edges softened, lovely sweet fruit. 91+/100

 

Chateau Rauzan Segla AOC Margaux 2nd Cru Classé 2004

The colour takes on a few extra hues here, looks tighter and more defined than the 2003, and there are none of the cooked notes on the fruit. This is darker, cleaner, perhaps less generous but beautifully classic. Here the blend is 42% merlot, 52.5% cabernet sauvignon, 4% petit verdot and 1.5% cabernet franc. This is a little shy right now, but great length, really classic menthol and bilberry flavours. Perhaps a Iittle flat, I am missing a little generosity on the finish. Very rare for me to enjoy an 03 over an 04 in a lineup, but I am drawn back to the sweet surprise of the proceeding year. 90/100

 

Chateau Rauzan Segla AOC Margaux 2nd Cru Classé 2005

This is gorgeous, just starting to vibrate, to announce its arrival. A high 55.5% cabernet sauvignon, 39% merlot, 5% petit verdot, 1.5% cab franc.  Can really feel the integrity of the fruit, get much plusher, deeper damson flavours, lovely texture that is smooth but with grip, leather rather than pvc. Feel the alcohol but the balance is near perfect. Every time you think it is going to overpower, a tannic hand taps you in the shoulder to offer reassurance. Lovely, careful winemaking. And again just gorgeous length. 94-95/100

 

Chateau Rauzan Segla AOC Margaux 2nd Cru Classé 2006

53% cabernet sauvignon, 44% merlot, 3% petit verdot, no cabernet franc in this year (they have recently reintroduced the grape in the blend after carefully reworking certain plots). Here there is a little dip in the centre, but the toasted oak and the black fruits rush in to catch you. This one is more cassis, tighter structure, less light showing between the gaps, well knitted, again this wonderful lift on the finish. Needs to unknot further, just plush up at the end, but it has time to do so. 92/100

 

Chateau Rauzan Segla AOC Margaux 2nd Cru Classé 2007

This in contrast with the 2006 is pretty much ready to go, it has softer toffee notes, quite gourmet for a 2007, but still with a very pretty structure. The blend is 59% cabernet sauvignon, 35.5% merlot, 5.5% petit verdot. This feels one of the more open and ready to drink of this lineup, an excellent example of why the classic prognosis on a good/bad vintage should be disregarded in the best estates. Lesser vintages often simply mean that you can drink them in five to 10 years rather than 10 to 30 years.  90/100

 

Chateau Rauzan Segla AOC Margaux 2nd Cru Classé 2008

Back to young tight, minty, classically trained and structured wine. I just love this, so poised and precise, almost ready to open up, but holding back. 62% cabernet sauvignon, 38% merlot. This tingles on your tongue. Builds up in power in your mouth, lovely length, for me this is a perfect example of the elegance and power of Rauzan Segla. One of my favourites, and shows what an underappreciated vintage this was. 60% new oak. 94/100

 

Chateau Rauzan Segla AOC Margaux 2nd Cru Classé 2009

58% cabernet sauvignon, 42% merlot. Here we have the bright purple and violet reflections, incredibly young visually for a hot vintage at five years old already. Back to cassis and bilberry, luscious damson flavours, coupled with touches of dark chocolate. This is a monumental achievement. Here we have a paintbrush of sensations gliding over your palate, feel the high fives around the vats from here. More obviously sexy than any other vintage so far, although there is a new austerity that was not present in the first few years with this vintage. The power underneath the smile is starting to become clear. 50% new oak. Flavours just go on and on. 14%abv. 97/100

 

Chateau Rauzan Segla AOC Margaux 2nd Cru Classé 2010

Buttoned up, pulling up the hatches, head down for the long haul. 14%abv. This is delicious, a real monumental wine, I stand utterly by how great this is going to be, but it needs a long long time, that is more obvious than ever. An excellent vintage, making full use of the ageing potential with 60% cabernet sauvignon. Tight bilberry and blackcurrant fruits, coupled with liquorice and coffee beans, the tannins here are clean and smooth but not giving a whole lot away right now. 96/100

 

Chateau Rauzan Segla AOC Margaux 2nd Cru Classé 2011

62% cabernet sauvignon, 36% merlot, 2% petit verdot. Young and tight, the tannins absolutely coat your mouth, right now tough to get a foothold on the wine. Interesting because when en primeur it felt much lighter (showing that in many ways it’s a great time to taste because you get a peak at the wine, before the layers of oak and time close it up). This needs peeling back slowly. Love the dark brooding nature of the fruits. 93/100

 

Chateau Rauzan Segla AOC Margaux 2nd Cru Classé 2012

Dark rich purple, so incredibly powerful and concentrated. A shot of pure juice. 54.5% cab sauvignon. For me, this has the plush quality of 2009, not quite as overtly sexy, but it has the damson and lush ripe fruit. Really see the tension in the fruit. Another vintage that was underestimated but is going to show itself over the next 10 years. Tannins are supple, yielding, eager to please and yet not overly so. I loved this en primeur, one of my best tastings in the appellation, and still find it excellent. John Kolasa says he wishes he hadn’t sold so much, just 3,000 bottles left at the chateau. Give it another four or five years before drinking. 94/100

 

Chateau Rauzan Segla AOC Margaux 2nd Cru Classé 2013

See the difference in colour with the 2012. This is softer, less violet more raspberry and redcurrant – both visually and on the nose also. A very different fruit spectrum, less ripe, more red than black fruits. 36hl/h brought in, pretty high yield compared to many estates. Blend is 58% cabernet sauvignon, 39% merlot, 2% petit verdot, 1% cabernet franc, 13%abv. Just 39% of first wine made this year (compared to 45% in 2010 for example), as clearly being very careful about selection. This does have merit, it is clearly careful and skillful winemaking, and will be at peak drinking before any of the 2009-2012 wines, but suffers from the underpowered vintage. 89-90/100

 

 

 

 

Chateau Canon 5yr vertical 2009-2013

Tasted in Saint Emilion at the chateau in November 2012

 

The vineyard here is around 70% merlot, 30% cabernet franc, with the proportion of cabernet franc raised slowly over the past few years. The estate recently increased in size through the purchase of Matras and Curé Bon – both of which are going almost entirely into the second wine La Croix Canon. As with Rauzan Ségla, you get the signature of elegant winemaking, where the team clearly respects the terroir, and knows when to pull back from extraction.

 

Chateau Canon, AOC Saint Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé 2009

This has a beautiful power, the oak is fairly evident however, this is what you would call plush, beautiful texture, silk, with plump fruit beneath. The tannins are soft, elegant, fruit spectrum clearly ripe but not overblown. This still retains its acidity; one of the keys of Canon's terroir, and there is none of the overblown alcohol that you get with some Saint Emilion’s in this vintage. A very good wine. 94/100

 

Chateau Canon, AOC Saint Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé 2010

Love this right from the first nose, get a concentrated fist of power, more bitter chocolate and expresso, more deep plum, this is a baby, astonishing how young it feels, with powerful tannins that hint at decades of life. A powerhouse at first glance, but the menthol notes and the violets reveal a gorgeous floral edge that tempers the power and situates you on a limestone terroir. Love this. 95/100

 

Chateau Canon, AOC Saint Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé 2011

A little shorter than the 2009 and 2010, this still has good texture, broad brushstrokes of plum and damson fruits. Fruit spectrum here is just under the perfect ripeness, I can feel the crunch of the damson, the green flesh peeking through the red skin. Elegant, lilting, one to drink over the next decade, and be very happy while doing so. 92/100

 

Chateau Canon, AOC Saint Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé 2012

Love the nose on the 2012, and love the use of oak, it is perfectly smoky, exactly what needed to be done with the vintage. Get some alcohol perhaps, which throws things off track; this has a toasted mocha feel, a glamorous and supple wine but surprised by the heat on the finish, takes things down a touch for me. The blend is 70/30 merlot/cab franc. 90/100

 

Chateau Canon, AOC Saint Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé 2013

The least expressive voice here, the wine is shorter than the other vintages on display, takes time to assert itself, but shows some perky mulberry fruit, medium body and smooth tannins. They have done a great job of restraining the extraction, just allowing the best parts of the fruit to surface. Again love the coffee toast of the oak, it does build in the mouth, you just have to wait. This is going to be a very enjoyable wine over the next 8 to 10 years, already it has fleshed out since the en primeur tastings. 89/100