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Château Rauzan-Ségla, Margaux 2011

Red Wine from France - Bordeaux
Classic Margaux, with vivid fruit freshness, dense tannin structure, and a refined, finely-honed palate of great length. A vintage for the long haul, with 62% cabernet, 36% merlot and 2% petit verdot.
Price: £77.00 Bottle
Price: £462.00 Case of 6
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Code: CM16311

Wine characteristics

  • Red Wine
  • Medium-bodied
  • Cabernet Merlot
  • 13.5% Alcohol
  • Oak used but not v. noticeable
  • Now to 2035
  • 75cl
  • Cork, natural

Cru Classe Medoc, Graves

The original and most famous wine classification came about when the organisers of the 1855 Universal Exposition of Paris wanted, naturally enough, to show the finest wines of the Bordeaux region. Brokers dealing in the wines got together and produced two classifications of the best red and sweet wines respectively, based on the selling price of the wines at that time. The list was produced very soon after a request for it from the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce was made, strongly suggesting that there was an ‘unofficial’ hierarchy already well known to the brokers.

These Grand Cru Classé wines were ranked in five tiers and, apart from the famous promotion of Château Mouton Rothschild in 1973 and the addition of Château Cantemerle to the fourth growths soon after the classification was established, they have remained unchanged ever since. Effectively, they represent what should be the best wines of the Médoc with the one interloper, Château Haut-Brion from Pessac-Léognan in the...
The original and most famous wine classification came about when the organisers of the 1855 Universal Exposition of Paris wanted, naturally enough, to show the finest wines of the Bordeaux region. Brokers dealing in the wines got together and produced two classifications of the best red and sweet wines respectively, based on the selling price of the wines at that time. The list was produced very soon after a request for it from the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce was made, strongly suggesting that there was an ‘unofficial’ hierarchy already well known to the brokers.

These Grand Cru Classé wines were ranked in five tiers and, apart from the famous promotion of Château Mouton Rothschild in 1973 and the addition of Château Cantemerle to the fourth growths soon after the classification was established, they have remained unchanged ever since. Effectively, they represent what should be the best wines of the Médoc with the one interloper, Château Haut-Brion from Pessac-Léognan in the Graves region.

The wines of the right bank, such as Saint-Emilion and Pomerol were not included because their selling price was not as high at that time. Five first growths sit at the head of 62 properties, all of them from the Médoc except for Château Haut-Brion in Pessac-Léognan.

Naturally enough, there have been many unofficial revisions made over the years, with expert opinions brought to bear on what promotions and demotions might have been over the years, but none of these musings, no matter how reflective of changing standards and prices they might be, will change the stratification as it stands.

The classification is as follows:
First Growths (Premiers Crus)
Château Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac; Château Latour, Pauillac; Château Margaux, Margaux; Château Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan ; Château Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac.

Second Growths (Deuxièmes Crus)
Château Rauzan-Ségla, Margaux; Château Rauzan-Gassies, Margaux; Château Léoville-Las Cases, Saint-Julien; Château Léoville-Poyferré, Saint-Julien; Château Léoville-Barton, Saint-Julien; Château Durfort-Vivens, Margaux; Château Gruaud-Larose, Saint-Julien; Château Lascombes, Margaux; Château Brane-Cantenac, Margaux; Château Pichon Longueville Baron, Pauillac; Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac; Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien; Château Cos d'Estournel, Saint-Estèphe; Château Montrose, Saint-Estèphe.

Third Growths (Troisièmes Crus)
Château Kirwan, Margaux; Château d'Issan (Margaux); Château Lagrange, Saint-Julien; Château Langoa-Barton, Saint-Julien; Château Giscours, Margaux; Château Malescot Saint Exupéry, Margaux; Château Cantenac-Brown, Margaux; Château Boyd-Cantenac, Margaux; Palmer, now Château Palmer, Margaux; Château La Lagune, Ludon (Haut-Médoc); Château Desmirail, Margaux; Château Dubignon, Margaux; Château Calon-Ségur, Saint-Estèphe; Château Ferrière, Margaux; Château Marquis d'Alesme Becker, Margaux.

Fourth Growths (Quatrièmes Crus)
Château Saint-Pierre, Saint-Julien; Château Talbot, Saint-Julien; Château Branaire-Ducru, Saint-Julien; Château Duhart-Milon, Pauillac; Château Pouget, Margaux; Château La Tour Carnet, Saint-Laurent (Haut-Médoc); Château Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estèphe; Château Beychevelle, Saint-Julien; Château Prieuré-Lichine, Margaux; Château Marquis de Terme, Margaux.

Fifth Growths (Cinquièmes Crus)
Château Pontet-Canet, Pauillac; Château Batailley, Pauillac; Château Haut-Batailley, Pauillac; Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac; Château Grand-Puy-Ducasse, Pauillac; Château Lynch-Bages, Pauillac; Château Lynch-Moussas, Pauillac; Château Dauzac, Margaux; Château d'Armailhac, Pauillac; Château du Tertre, Margaux; Château Haut-Bages-Libéral, Pauillac; Château Pédesclaux, Pauillac; Château Belgrave, Saint-Laurent (Haut-Médoc); Château de Camensac, Saint-Laurent (Haut-Médoc); Château Cos Labory, Saint-Estèphe; Château Clerc-Milon, Pauillac; Château Croizet Bages, Pauillac; Château Cantemerle, Macau (Haut-Médoc).

Alongside the reds resides the classification for Sauternes and Barsac from further up river on the Garonne. There, 27 estates make up a smaller pyramid of their own, topped by the legendary Château d’Yquem, which had been classified out on its own above all the other sweet wines of the region.

Since the 1885 classification there have been other such systems established. Those of Graves and Saint-Emilion, both established much later than the 1855 and both subject to change, changes which cause no end of trouble for the authorities as estates are promoted or, more contentiously demoted and seek legal redress for the perceived injustice.

Cru Bourgeois is a further classification in the Médoc, representing some 30% of the production of the area. It was established in 1932 to represent properties outside of the Grand Cru Classé estates, though it was not officially recognised by the French government until 2003. At that time the selection of properties entitled to use the designation was revised and, unsurprisingly, fiercely contested by those who were left outside the classification, leading to a legal decision annulling the original classification while their status is re-examined by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce. The list has previously been revised every 12 years, but from the 2018 vintage will be accredited every five years, and is based on the history terroir, winemaking and quality control of the properties, overseen by the Alliance des Crus Bourgeios de Médoc created in the same year as the revision. It is divided into three categories: Cru Bourgeios, Cru Bourgeios Supérieur and Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel. In theory the fact that qualification for the designation is based on quality should see improvements in the quality of wines made under its nomenclature.
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Château Rauzan-Ségla

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 under-investment, 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 twenty-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 Argentinian '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 ...
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 under-investment, 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 twenty-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 Argentinian '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 wine 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. Rauzan-Ségla can be enjoyed for between 12 and 40 years.
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Bordeaux Vintage 2011

Nature threw many a challenge at Bordeaux growers in 2011 but the difficulties were faced down by diligent producers and many ripe, pure and traditionally-styled clarets were made.

An early harvest, sometimes by two or three weeks in some cases, benefited from largely fine weather, without which the cabernet sauvignon would not have ripened sufficiently. Spring had been hot, to the point of some vines shutting down at one stage, and though flowering had been even there was some uneven ripening later. Indifferent weather in August meant that strict selection was required at the harvest. Those who were rigorous in the vineyard and the cellar have made classic clarets characterised by ripeness balanced by refreshing purity of fruit and fine, tight-knit tannins that return to a more traditional style of Bordeaux that many enthusiasts have missed in the last couple of vintages.

Certainly the wines do not display the concentration and exuberance of 2009 and 2010, but there are outstanding...
Nature threw many a challenge at Bordeaux growers in 2011 but the difficulties were faced down by diligent producers and many ripe, pure and traditionally-styled clarets were made.

An early harvest, sometimes by two or three weeks in some cases, benefited from largely fine weather, without which the cabernet sauvignon would not have ripened sufficiently. Spring had been hot, to the point of some vines shutting down at one stage, and though flowering had been even there was some uneven ripening later. Indifferent weather in August meant that strict selection was required at the harvest. Those who were rigorous in the vineyard and the cellar have made classic clarets characterised by ripeness balanced by refreshing purity of fruit and fine, tight-knit tannins that return to a more traditional style of Bordeaux that many enthusiasts have missed in the last couple of vintages.

Certainly the wines do not display the concentration and exuberance of 2009 and 2010, but there are outstanding examples throughout Bordeaux. Saint-Julien and Pauillac performed particularly well, as did the most favoured sites of Pomerol and Saint-Emilion, though in every case the wines are fresher, more classically proportioned expression of Bordeaux than the two vintages that preceded it.

Some have likened the vintage to 2001 and that has turned out to be considerably better than expected, and other have assessed the vintage as being somewhere between 2004 and 2008 in style. Wines made by the best producers with great terroir, and the resources to ensure that the necessary care was taken in the vineyard and the cellar, have produced wines that will age well for many years to come. Most are likely to need more time in bottle than the 2012s or 2013s.

Sweet wine makers enjoyed the third excellent vintage in a row.Thewarm, humid conditions at the end of the season were a gift to those in Sauternes and Barsac, who have rarely seen such regular onset of noble rot. Here the rich but beautifully fresh style of the vintage makes for easier comparisons with the fine 2007, and perhaps the great 2001.
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2011 vintage reviews

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