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Château Lassègue 2015

Château Lassègue 2015

There is not really that long to wait now before the revised 2022 St Emilion classification is revealed. The deadline for submission has passed. The dossiers are in, and the letters to unsuccessful candidates (given them notice of their right to appeal) have gone out. The proprietors already know whether or not they have been successful. We have to wait a few more months, of course.

So far only one thing is certain, and that is four of the appellation’s most renowned and respected châteaux are departing the classification, with neither Château Ausone nor Château Cheval Blanc having applied. There are perhaps a number of reasons that contributed to these two grand old dames taking this decision, although you can read the official line in this blog post. Following them through the exit door was Château Angélus, Hubert de Boüard de Laforest having decided the stress of being in the system and all the legal fall-out was too much. And then, most recently, Château La Gaffelière withdrew, announced with a letter decrying the system and its methods. It was quite clear from the announcement they were facing demotion, and rather than appeal that they have departed the system with a stinging attack on the classification and its ranking methodologies.

Château Lassègue 2015

I hope when the time comes the departure of these two châteaux does not overshadow the successes we are sure to see in the 202 classification, as there are bound to be some promotions, possibly some very significant ones. While any discussion about likely promotions always turns to Château Figeac, where the Manoncourt family, together with their talented technical director Frédéric Faye have pulled out all the stops in a no-expense-spared push for promotion, there are a number of other candidates dotted around the appellation which I would be delighted to see also promoted. One of the most deserving is surely Château Lassègue.

Château Lassègue sits on the slopes to the east of the town of St Emilion, close to the road which runs out along the foot of the plateau. The soils here have a lot of clay, but also a mix of calcaire à astéries and molasses du Fronsadais, all of which seem to suit the region’s predominant variety, which is of course Merlot. Even so, the property has tended to fly under the radar a little, and its location – somewhat off the beaten track – is perhaps one reason why this is so. This is despite the renown of the owners, two families, one headed up by Barbara Banke (of Jackson Family Wines) and the other by the inordinately successful Pierre Seillan. The two have long worked together at the Californian estate Vérité, and they embarked on their Bordeaux project in 1993.

Judging for the 2022 classification included a tasting of the last ten-to-fifteen vintages (exactly how many depends on which level of the classification you are shooting for), as was the case last time around. That made things difficult for Château Lassègue back in 2012, as the new team did not even have ten vintages to submit by the time the dossier deadline arrived. This time they have no such problem, and to apply for the grand cru classé classification they will have submitted 2009 to 2018. That decade includes some excellent vintages and wines (let’s skip over 2013, obviously).

This weekend I decided to take a look at one of these vintages, 2015, from Château Lassègue. This was a significant year for the region and specifically this property. It was the first very strong vintage since 2010, following the rather ho-hum 2011 and 2012 vintages, and the somewhat over-rated (in my opinion, anyway) 2014 vintage. It was also the first vintage in which Pierre Seillan began to hand responsibility to his son and daughter-in-law, Nicolas and Christina Seillan. In the glass this displays a dark and glossy hue, which leads to a complex nose filled with toasted blackberry, liquorice, black olive and vanilla pod, along with some floral elements reminiscent of dried violets, as well as a suggestion of cool crushed chalk. Beautifully poised on the palate, this is very finely textured, bordering on silky, the texture supporting layers of dark fruits, blackberry, olive and currant. It is packed out with ripe and tightly grained tannins which come to prominence in the middle and especially at the end. It is spicy too, certainly energetic, with a thread of pepper, long and charged. This is an exciting wine now, but I think the real joy lies a few years away yet. Give it five more, maybe a few more, to see it at its best The declared alcohol is 14.5%. 94/100

The quality here is so good it is tempting to have a little wager on Château Lassègue being promoted come 2022. And maybe I could have a flutter on Château Figeac and Le Dôme at the same time. I won’t bother looking for odds on Château Ausone, Château Cheval Blanc, Château Angélus or Château La Gaffelière though; those horses are clearly no longer in the running. (27/6/22)

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