Château Canon, 2015 Retrospective

It is true I think that when one door closes another one often opens (even if sometimes we have to tug quite hard at the handle in order for it to do so). What really matters, I suppose, is that we see the opportunities unfolding before us, and have the courage to grasp them, and to run with them. I suspect that John Kolasa, manager of Château Canon for so many years, knows how to spot a door that has been left ajar, and I also suspect that now, as John nears retirement, he can look back over a career rich in Bordeaux experiences and be content that, at the right time, he made the right moves. John has, in short, grasped the handles of several doors in his time.

Over the past couple of months I have met up with John Kolasa three times, in Edinburgh, in London and in Bordeaux. Naturally wines were poured, and over a glass or two of Château Canon I learnt a lot about John’s career, his arrival in Bordeaux, how he entered the world of wine, how he progressed from one château to the next and ultimately how he came to be managing one of the leading premier grand cru classé properties in St Emilion. This Château Canon Retrospective looks at John’s story, as well as his work at Château Canon, illustrated in a most enjoyable manner by my tasting of a dozen wines from the estate, stretching back to the 2000 vintage. It is the first of two loosely connected reports as John nears retirement, as I will shortly publish a similar retrospective on John’s work at Château Rauzan-Ségla, also illustrated by a tasting of recent vintages from that estate. First though, let’s go back to the beginning.

Château Canon, 2015 Retrospective

John Lands a Job

John first landed in Bordeaux in the early 1970s. Scottish by birth, John nevertheless had a French mother, and was a qualified French teacher, so it is hardly surprising that he should find his feet planted on French soil. But before long the door to his new life in France appeared to be closing. He soon realised that his teaching qualifications were not recognised in France, and without gainful employment he would soon find himself shipped back to Scotland. An alternative was to study for fresh qualifications, but unwilling to go back to burning the midnight oil, poring over text books and cramming for more exams, and equally reluctant to be deported, John simply found a different job. Being in Bordeaux it was perhaps not surprising that it was in wine, as it happens working for the English-American partnership of William Bolter and Steven Schneider. One door had closed, but another had opened.

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