Chateau Calon Ségur, purchased in 2012 by Suravenir company (subsidiary of the banking group Crédit Mutuel Arkéa) has invested a lot in the renovation and reorganization of the estate. In March 2019, the official opening of the Mansion will end five years of work at the estate. Does this renewal also remarkable at the tasting ?  

Chateau Calon Ségur Makeover

Enf of July. The sun is so shinny that every Bordelais have left the city to find freshness on our region’s beaches. Or maybe around the pools, with a glass of Bordeaux Rosé or Provence in the hand. But Bordeaux Tradition is always on the job ! So, last week we have started our searches about our next article on Château Calon Ségur. After reading the excellent article of Terre de Vins (in french), it was clear for us : we have to (re)visit this fantastic estate ! So, this Monday 23rd, we have met Sophie Marc, Marketing and Communication officer of the property.

A few kilometers North of Bordeaux, at the edge of the Garonne estuary, overlooking the village of Saint-Estèphe, we find the Château Calon Ségur. As the Château reminds on its website “an air of eternity permeates Calon Ségur”. Indeed, historical references are not lacking around the property since it is one of the oldest Médoc. This is also what shows us the stone engraved at the entrance of the property: “Château Calon Ségur, Premier Cru at Saint-Estèphe“. Since the Gallo-Roman era (first trace of the Castle according to historians), the owners have succeeded at its head. Nevertheless, the most emblematic remains the Marquis Nicolas Alexandre de Segur. Also owner of the Châteaux Latour, Lafite and Mouton at that time, he bequeaths his name to the Château Calon which becomes in the eighteenth century the Château Calon Ségur. In 1894, a few years after its promulgation to the rank of Third Cru, the Château is acquired by the Gasqueton family who will take care of the estate until 2012, with sobriety and elegance.

As we have already explained it here, Château Calon Ségur is purchased by a branch of Crédit Mutuel Arkéa: the Suravenir Insurance Group. This group is leading by Jean-Pierre Denis, a wine aficionado. Almost immediately, he entrusted the management of the estate to Laurent Dufau, the child of the Médoc. The technical management remains in the hands of Vincent Millet, already presents at the estate since 2006. Therefore, they lead together a large-scale renovation, respectful of history, supported by the financial strength of the Group Suravenir.

So it is this story that Sophie is about to detail to me. When I arrived at the estate, I discovered a young woman full of dynamism and passion. Welcomed by a frank handshake and a broad smile, she presents me the offices before heading where everything begins: in the vineyards.

Already 55 hectares in 1855, Calon Ségur is one of the only estate that shows such a constency in the vineyard. To tell the truth, the restructuring of the vineyard had already begun in 2006, under the direction of Vincent Millet. The Suravenir Group has confirmed this project thanks to two main way of development: increasing planting density and giving more room to Cabernet Sauvignon. Indeed, even the initials confirm it: Calon Ségur, Cabernet Sauvignon. The technique is simple: remove 2 to 3 hectares per year, to finally reduce the share of Merlot in favor of Cabernet Sauvignon in the final blend. But such an objective takes time and the expected results will only occur in 2032!


Calon Ségur


Thus, more than 30 million euros have been invested in the vineyard but also in the winery.

Indeed, when the Suravenir Group arrived, the teams did not change but the technical equipment was completely replaced. By this way, the tractor park doubled and the most important renovations took place around the mechanical pole. The buildings have been renovated, without becoming flashy. As Laurent Dufau says it himself: “the star is the wine“. So buildings must only sublimate it and not shadow it. Our visit goes on with the Mansion, intended to welcome the customers, the journalists or the distributors of the Château Calon Ségur. Sophie does not hide her enthusiasm for this last building, which, once completed, will mark the end of renovations to the estate. The terrace of the Mansion, which dominates the French Gardens, also offers us a breathtaking view of the vineyards of the Château, especially of the “Parcelle Collection”, the latest addition to the estate. With this plot, the idea was to duplicate the most qualitative vines of the estate, from the mass selection, present on the highest hilltops of the terroir of Calon. On their Facebook page, Sophie said that “this plot, planted on July 5, is composed of 4920 vines divided between our four grape varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot)“.


Calon Ségur

We continue towards the vat room. Already operational since 2016, it tooks two years of work to add the double stainless steel tanks needed for the parcel selection of the grapes. Thus, the new space is divided into two levels according to the gravity principle in order to work efficiently the intra-plot selection of the property. As a reminder, gravity maceration preserves the quality of grapes collected in the vineyard. The Château also has a nitrogen cooling tunnel. It is why the grapes reach the temperature of 12 degrees in a few seconds that enables quick cold pre-fermentation maceration. Sophie explains to me that all the bar codes on the vats and the machines allow the traceability of the vinification.


Calon Ségur


Then, we go to the cellars of 2nd year through an underground gallery where is stored the memory of Calon. 35 meters long and linking the chai of 2nd year to the chai of 1st year, this sanctuary welcomes the old flasks of the property. The specificity of this part of this estate is its ceiling built thanks to the staves of the old vats of the estate that having hosted 101 vintages. And we have the proof of the work at that time with the thanks to the scratches on the staves because of the forks used at that time for vinification ! To go back to the cellars of 1st year, we borrow a wooden tank transformed into stairs! The new cellars of Château Calon Ségur can accommodate up to a thousand hundred barrels! For this renovation, the tiles, the stone of Gironde and the wood were privileged to integrate the harmony of hilltops that surrounding the Château.


Calon Ségur


Finally, we end our visit with the tasting room, a true halo of light thanks to its glass roof.

Back to the offices, our visit ends, full of emotions and dreams that you will be able to share too from January 2019 after the opening of the Chateau to public visits!

Château Calon Ségur style

After so many investments and changes, we are entitled to ask ourselves how these works translate into glass? Of course, Château Calon Ségur did not wait 2012 to discover its potential. Classified Third Cru since 1855, it is one of the jewels of Saint-Estèphe appellation. But these developments awake our curiosity !

Already ready in 2016, the vat house had hosted the 2016 vintage, a great vintage for Laurent Duffau and Vincent Millet. However, it is only with the 2017 vintage that the grapes were able to follow the entire vinification process. So what about this 2017 vintage?

With this objective of replanting the vineyard, the property is closed to the greatest Grands Crus in the region, whose blend is also with majority of Cabernet Sauvignon. And although the final blend of 15% Merlot will be efficient from 2032 according to the property, it does not prevent the work in the vineyard is already felt in the glass. Finally, the blend of the 2017 vintage is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. For this 2017 Primeurs tasting, the majority of Cabernet Sauvignon give all its structure and power to the wine. On the month, the tannins are silky, with aromas of black fruits and spicy notes. The attack is smooth but the volume quickly arrives in the mouth. According to Lisa Perrotti-Brown, the Château Calon Ségur 2017, like the property, is an elegant wine.

Calon Ségur

So, tasters are not mistaken and, at the end of the 2017 Primeurs, they all recognize Calon Ségur as one of the rising values ??of the Medoc, one of the brands to follow in the years to come. And we will not contradict them!