In 1661, this estate was bought by Pierre Desmezures de Rauzan, who named it after himself. It then passed through two centuries of his family, who maintained a high reputation for the château, so much so that it became a favourite of Thomas Jefferson.
In the 1855 Classification, Rauzan-Ségla was placed top of the second growths – just after Mouton-Rothschild, which has since been promoted to a first growth. In the 20th century the property passed through a series of owners and suffered seriously from underinvestment, but this changed when the Wertheimer family, who own the Chanel business, bought the estate in 1994.
They recruited John Kolasa, previously manager at Latour, to run it, installed proper drainage and embarked upon a considerable amount of replanting. After 20 years of improving the estate and the wines, Kolasa has now been succeeded by Nicolas Audebert, formerly of Veuve Clicquot and Cheval des Andes, the Argentine 'grand cru' established by Château Cheval Blanc.
The 66-hectare vineyard lies in the heart of Margaux on deep but poor gravel soil, ideal for producing wine with fine bouquet, for which the appellation is famous. The average age of the vines – 27 years – may not be anywhere near the oldest in the Médoc, (thanks to the necessary replanting in the 1990s) but some vineyard plots are over 50 years old.
Grape selection is very strict from start to finish: all grapes are hand-picked, before being sorted twice at the winery, ensuring only the best fruit is used in the finished wine. They are then fed into stainless-steel tanks using gravity-flow technology, where they undergo temperature-controlled fermentation.
Since the early part of the 21st century, Rauzan-Ségla has re-established itself as one of the finest wines of the appellation alongside Margaux and Palmer, with all three properties making very fine, balanced, potentially long-lived wines. The second wine, Ségla, is also an excellent buy.
The grand vin is generally a blend of 54% cabernet sauvignon, 41% merlot, 4% petit verdot and 1% cabernet franc aged for 18 months in French oak, 80% of which is new. It can be enjoyed for between 12 and 40 years from the vintage.