Nicolas Audebert has taken the reigns from John Kolasa at Rauzan Segla and Canon. It has been a dream start for him; not only did St Emilion and Margaux enjoy the best of the conditions in 2015, his two estates, both owned by the Wertheimer brothers, are amongst the finest wines in their respective communes. It seems appropriate that the family who owns Chanel should produce such stylish clarets. One can hardly have a couture wine, but it seems that Nicolas has fashioned something that perfectly fits out palates. Initially there is a wonderful combination of lilacs, violets, plums and crème de cassis. On the palate there is a swathe of creamy summer pudding fruits: mulberries, loganberries and thimbleberries. It really is a very classy, refined effort, brimming with life and vitality, yet serious and complex with a haunting finish. In fashionista terms, this swag is a lust-have 2015!
Bought by the Wertheimer brothers of the fashion house, Chanel, in 1994, Rauzan Segla has slowly undergone a transformation under the astute leadership of John Kolasa. Prior to the Chanel ownership, grapes were harvested by machine with no sorting tables and foot pressed before being fermented in enormous vats with little to no temperature control. Since 1994, new machinery, investment in the chai, combined with harvesting by hand and much greater selection in the vineyard have brought this 2nd growth estate into the 21st century as one of the foremost Margaux properties.
Stylistically, the wines do not possess the opulence of Palmer, or the ethereal quality of Chateau Margaux, but they are classical, balanced, elegant expressions of Margaux and are remarkably consistent given this can be a topsy-turvy commune. The 2010 Rauzan Segla was one of the outstanding wines in a truly remarkable vintage. Great strides have been made, and no doubt John and his team will continue to strive for even greater quality.
The wines tend to show more perfume and roundness than neighbour St-Julien, Pauillac, and St-Estèphe, whilst retaining a certain structure and concentration. Margaux is the most southerly and most extensive of the famous Médoc communes, a patchwork of vineyards with lesser parcels classed purely as Haut-Médoc. A myriad of soil mixtures can be found, clay, limestone, and gravel. Though quality is not always consistent here, the potential is great as more Margaux properties were included in the 1855 classification of the Médoc and Graves than any other appellation.
The two leading lights are the highly sought after Châteaux Margaux and Palmer, though there are several other solid performers including Brane-Cantenac, Rauzan-Ségla, Durfort-Vivens, Lascombes, Giscours, Ferrières, Malescot St Exupery and Luc Thienpont’s new boutique vineyard, Clos des Quatre Vents.