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May 12, 2015

Calon Segur, Marquis de Calon and Cantemerle 2014

calon (1)

Calon Segur has released this morning at £35 per bottle or £420 per case of 12, on parity with last year’s ex-London release. This was one of the success stories of the 2013 campaign, selling out overnight on the Place de Bordeaux. Calon Segur is also considered one of the rising stars of the Medoc and one of the best performing wines to buy en primeur over the last 10 years, with an average return of 26%. Today’s release is comfortably below the current average market price of the last ten vintages, £520 per case. We tasted Calon Segur several times during en primeur and it was tasting beautifully and was highly regarded by all, comfortably surpassing the sold-out 2013. In fact, James Molesworth of the Wine Spectator (WS) rates it better than the 2010, awarding it 92-95 points, while James Suckling (JS) has awarded it 93-94 points. It is worth noting that the lower-rated 2008 vintage trades today at £530 per case of 12. Its positive vintage premium is demonstrated in the table below:

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The history of Calon Segur can be traced back to 1147 when it was owned by the bishop Monseigneur de Calon. It is classified a Third Growth and follows closely behind Cos d’Estournel and Montrose as one of the leading lights of St.Estephe. In fact, Montrose was a forest-land belonging to the Calon Segur estate, so vast that it once contained Mouton and Lafite Rothschild.  Calon Segur eventually passed into the hands of the Segur family and the Marquis de Segur, who also owned Lafite and Latour.  He famously is quoted as saying, ‘I make my wine at Lafite and Latour, but my heart is in Calon’, which became the basis for the widely-recognized label: a heart encompassing the estate’s name in bold red letters.

In 1894, the chateau and its vineyards were purchased by the Gasqueton family, who managed the estate until 2012, when the doyenne, Madame Denise Capbern Gasqueton, passed away. Vincent Millet, formerly of Chateau Margaux, was brought in as Technical Director in 2008 and remained with the estate when it was sold to a large French insurance company in 2012, with the negociant company, Jean-Pierre Moueix (owners of Petrus), taking a minority stake.

Vincent Millet and his team always took the greatest care with the vineyards and wine, but the new owners provided the capital to renovate the facilities, including replacing vats and moving to a gravity-fed system. The vineyards are planted to 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, although the new owners believe the vineyard is more suited to Cabernet Sauvignon and will reduce the percentage of Merlot slowly. The average age of all vines is 35 years. Laurent Dufau was brought in as General Manager of the estate in 2012 and has increased the amount of new oak from 50% to 100%, which has made the wine more approachable in its youth.

In addition we are delighted to offer the superb Second wine of Calon Segur, Marquis de Calon, which at £14.58 per bottle offers incredible value for a wine of its quality.

Cantemerle has also released their excellent 2014 effort, which at £14 per bottle offers pretty much the best value for money for any wine in the world. The 2014 release price of £170 per case of 12 makes this the cheapest available vintage, lower than the 2013 and 23% lower than the average case price of the last ten vintages, making it a no-brainer.  If one considers Suckling’s score of 93-94 and Molesworth’s 90-93, this is one of Cantemerle’s finest ever vintages, only surpassed by the 2009 and 2010. Cantemerle is a Fifth Growth in its own right and one of the oldest properties in the Medoc.

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Cantemerle’s history extends to the Middle Ages when it formed part of the fortifications defending the Medoc. Wine has been produced on this site since the 14th Century and in 1579 the Chateau was purchased by the Villeneuve-Durfort family.

Today the Estate is in the stewardship of Le Groupe (Les Mutuelles d’Assurance du Bâtiment et des Travaux Public) who purchased it in 1981 and began investing heavily, rebuilding the cuvier, repairing the chai and embarking on a replanting scheme which results in an average vine age today of 30 years. Today the Estate boasts 87 hectares and is cultivated with 50% Cabernet Saugvignon, 40% Merlot and an additional 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. The wine is aged in 40-50% new French oak for 14 months and the Estate produces 25,000 cases a year.

The Estate is renowned for rich concentrated fruit flavours of blackberry and plum, with delicate brioche and toast, developing a lovely nose of forest floor and liquorice with age.

Calon Segur 2014, 12×75 – £420 or 6×75 – £210 EP
James Suckling, 93-94
This has a wonderful density and a velvety texture with so much fruit and richness. Full body, fine tannins and wonderful length. Gorgeous.
James Molesworth, 92-95
This has a core of lightly steeped plum and blackberry, with alluring tobacco and charcoal notes lining the finish. Shows nice underlying acidity, and seems likely to fill out steadily. This estate is back in form since the ownership change.
Neal Martin, Wine Advcoate, 91-93
… It is relatively opulent and high-toned compared to its Saint Estèphe counterparts, developing floral scents with time but never quite extricating itself from the winemaking. The palate is medium-bodied with quite firm tannin that lend this more chewiness than either Montrose or Cos d’Estournel. There is a lot of backbone to this wine, well focused with a good line of acidity, but again, I believe a more moderate use of new oak would have allowed the terroir to be expressed in what is a terroir-driven vintage. It is an impressive, you could almost say ambitious Calon Ségur, though I am seeking more personality via the terroir to be articulated. Tasted three times with consistent notes.

Marquis de Calon 2014 (Second Wine of Calon Segur) 12×75 – £175 EP

Cantemerle 2014, 12×75 – £170 EP
James Suckling, 93-94
This is a knowckout. Excellent concentration of fruit and firm tannins. Very, very long. Fruity and intense. Same quality or better than 2010. Impressive.
James Molesworth, 90-93
Rock-solid, with a lovely loamy edge to the steeped currant and blackberry fruit. Hints of warm paving stone and smoldering tobacco emerge on the finish, and should develop with time. A textbook Médoc Cabernet.
Wine Advocate, Neal Martin, 87-89
The Château Cantemerle 2014 has a bright and slightly glossy bouquet with blackcherries and boysenberry fruit, hints of tobacco and gravel coming through with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with quite “fat” tannin that lend this Cantemerle weight in the mouth, although I would have liked more precision and terroir-expression to surface on the finish. This is a “stocky” Cantemerle at the moment that just needs more sophistication.

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