Château Rauzan-Ségla Retrospective, 2015

Having already explored the work of John Kolasa at Château Canon, in my recent Château Canon 2015 Retrospective, it seems clear that Château Rauzan-Ségla deserves at the very least the same treatment. Although Château Canon perhaps has the grander ranking of the two châteaux, having been consistently ranked as premier grand cru classé in every reworking of the St Emilion classification that has seen the light of day, I think it is fair to say that Château Rauzan-Ségla is no slouch either. Its high standing was recognised as long ago as the mid-19th century when the Bordeaux merchants in charge of the 1855 classification ranked this estate as a deuxième cru, second only to Château Mouton-Rothschild. When that estate was promoted in 1973, following decades of campaigning by Baron Philippe de Rothschild the move left Château Rauzan-Ségla sitting pretty, the first of the seconds. In the eyes of those merchants, anyway. If any of them had still been alive, that is, which would have been an impressive feat.

Of course in more recent times, during the 1970s and 1980s in particular, this estate’s crown has slipped somewhat, the wines not always up to scratch (although I often enjoyed the 1982 and 1985 vintages). The vineyards and château were in need of serious work, the fruit was machine-picked, the approach to vinification coarse, the ill-equipped cellar obviating any hope of finesse or precision in the work or decision-making. This was the situation when, in 1994, it was acquired by the Wertheimer brothers of Chanel. As I have already elucidated elsewhere, including the Château Canon 2015 Retrospective, the Wertheimers had just missed out on buying Château Latour, but they managed to head-hunt John Kolasa to lead Château Rauzan-Ségla through its renaissance, which he has achieved with great aplomb. Today this is one of the most reliable addresses in the commune, regularly coming third in my Margaux tastings behind Château Margaux and Château Palmer, no mean feat. In John’s final vintage, 2014, the gap was narrower than ever; he can retire proud that he has left a string of very good wines behind him.

Château Rauzan-Ségla

In this retrospective I take a look at a dozen wines from John’s tenure, and looking at some of the developments that were instigated by John and that were instrumental in ameliorating the quality of the wine.

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