Bordeaux 2018 reaches its hedonistic heights in the northern Haut-Médoc, and no more so than in St Estèphe. At Château Calon Ségur one of the most remarkable wines has been made. This property has had a very impressive run here over the last decade. That said, the 2018 is a legend in the making. The fruit is spectacular, the style is sublime and the wine is voluptuous. For me it was the most memorable wine [amongst many] during primeurs back in April. Not surprisingly word quickly got out. The wine was the most expensive Calon released en primeur and it is now offered at a price higher than any other vintage in the past decade. I guess for a Bordeaux that has first growth unambiguously stamped all over it, and considering the world’s screaming eagles, maybe £1000 a case could still be considered a snip.
For those of you like me without that sort of cash, its cousin, Château Capbern, is a stellar buy. The wine here is always impressive but it is truly thrilling 2018. What’s more it can still be had for a fifth of the price of Calon itself. The vineyards of Château Capbern are enviably situated in St Estèphe between Château Phelan Ségur and Château Meyney, opposite Château Tronquoy Lalande. The wine is made with meticulous care by Vincent Millet, who looks after all the winemaking at Calon Ségur.
Back to the magnificent Château Calon-Ségur 2018 itself. Vincent Millet described an extremely wet first half of the growing season, with 700mm in six months, almost twice the annual rainfall at that point. After mid-June things changed. It became very dry and sunny. Quite remarkably the maturation of the Cabernet and Merlot led to similar alcohol ranges [between 14-16 degrees] at harvest. Still the pH and acidities show that the wines retain freshness, a remarkable achievement at Calon, a tribute to its unique terroir. This acidity means that Vincent believes that the wines have great ageing potential, twenty to thirty years. That said, the fabulous quality of the fruit here should mean that this Calon will be attractive in its youth, providing a really long drinking window.
The following notes were taken earlier in the year at Château Calon Ségur. If you can afford Calon itself, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. If you can’t, then opt Château Capbern. I did!
Château Capbern, St Estèphe, 2018
Nice healthy looking colour; wonderfully ripe fruits; sings from the glass; really pretty; red fruits; raspberry, lovely sweet ripe entry; purity on the palate; really fine fruit but there is tension in the middle; texture and freshness; lovely overall – lots of fruit yet nimble; Capbern’s terroir lies between Château Phelan Ségur and Château Meyney and opposite Château Tronquoy-Lalande. Brilliant stuff! [62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot, 14.6% alc, TA 3.55 pH 3.75 41hl/ha, 60% new oak]. Tasted April 2019. Drink 2023-2035. 91-93+
Le Marquis de Calon-Ségur, St Estèphe, 2018
Deep and dark at centre: earthy at edge; ripe and sweet aromatics; very seductive fruit; almost Napa-esque here; pure; some schist; lovely ripe entry; sweet and alluring; really voluptuous; lovely mid palate; again soft but appealing; mid palate; soft but more fine grains tannins at the end. Polished. Length. Recently replanted Cabernet made it into Marquis this year. Great freshness donated by the Cabs. [53% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.9% alc, TA 3.6, pH 3.65, 30% new oak]. Tasted April 2019. Drink 2023-2035. 92-94+
Château Calon Ségur, Grand Cru Classé, St Estèphe, 2018
Very deep colour; arterial at centre; earthy purple at edge; tight to the rim; lovely blackcurrant purity; layered; some toast at the end; this is spectacular Calon; really precise yet wonderfully voluptuous at the same time; elegance and grace; extremely appealing; lovely texture to the tannins; length on the finish. Vincent Millet says they reduced extraction during the fermentation because of the high potential alcohol [a 20 day fermentation and cuvaison at 26 degrees centigrade] so as not to pick up bitterness. Thisis fabulous wine. I had the same thrill tasting Lafite 2009 during primeurs almost a decade ago. Different wine Calon Ségur 2018, but it is a wonder. [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, 14.9% alc, TA 3,6, pH 3.75, 41hl/ha, 100% new oak]. Tasted April 2019. Drink 2025-2050. 98-100