16 vintages of Calon Segur

16 VINTAGES OF CALON SEGUR - Ripple Restaurant in Washington D.C. (1/20/2014)

Be sure to scroll down for Kevin Shin’s fine notes, also published from Cellar Tracker.

Last year in Bordeaux, I convinced Laurent Dufau of Chateau Calon Segur to come to Washington D.C. to present the wines of this famous estate - apparently the oldest in the Medoc.

It has a reputation for avoiding publicity so this tasting - since the chateau was purchased by a French bank barely two years ago - was the first such event in the US since at least 20 years if not 120, Dufau said.

Participants included many wine geeks, professional wine sellers, sommeliers, merchants and restaurateurs. It was fun. And a good learning experience. Important to note that since 2006, the estate has been increasing the density of its vineyard planting and the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. Until 2006, the blend included as much as almost 50 percent Merlot. Since that vintage, the average has been closer to 80/20 Cabernet/Merlot. My overall favorite is 2009: a superb vintage that defies the high alcohol trends of Bordeaux and will prove to be something very special in 15-20 years.

  • 2010 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    When tasted en primeur, I found it a bit too austere but it has tamed itself… And yet, this is a wine that needs lots of time. Several participants at a dinner I organised for Ripple Restaurant in Washington D.C. voted this wine as the best for the future, among 16 vintages. The structure is there, the freshness and the substance. It is not just together yet. Potential for a higher score. (93+ pts.)
  • 2009 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    This is a great bottle of wine. There is sex appeal and structure. The northern Medoc excelled in 2009. While some people believe that 2009 is an all-around positive vintage, let us not forget that this is when Merlot started getting out of hand… Not so in the Medoc, and certainly not at Calon Segur. Some critics ooh and ah over the excessive winemaking at Cos d’Estournel in that year, which comes across as a caricature of winemaking. Here we have 100% new oak, but very well integrated - and 90% Cabernet. This baby will evolve into something very special. Boy am I glad I bought 12 bottles en primeur. Montrose is no doubt better, but Calon Segur amounts to less than half the price… (95 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Fine and fresh aromatics. Yet another underrated 2008. Critic John Gilman prefers this over 2010 and 2009. While I would not go that far, this wine offers fine ripeness and excellent verve if not as structured as either 2010 or 2009. But people who dismiss this as not as concentrated may be in for a surprise. There is sneaky persistence on the finish. And plenty of charm! (92 pts.)
  • 2007 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    One of the better 07s from Bordeaux. Very charming and went so well with the dinner. Slight bottle variation. But here we have a wine that is more reflective of the terroir: since around that vintage, the estate started making its wine exclusively from the 55 hectares within the clos of the chateau. And they used more Cabernet: here some 83% Cabernet (as opposed to the virtual 50/50 mix of Cab/Merlot with the 2005). A lovely effort. (90 pts.)
  • 2006 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Not sure what to think of the 2006. Stolid. Yet solid. No word play :slight_smile:. I recall reporting in September in Bordeaux for decanter.com when the rain fell, and got some savory quotes from Jean Rene Matignon of Pichon Baron basically saying that this was detrimental to optimal ripeness. Laurent Dufau of Calon Segur himself compares 2006 to 1975: “Will it ever come around?” The substance is there, on the mid palate, but it is hardly pleasurable. Gilman is convinced that this will be great down the road. Cross the fingers, but for now, it is not ready. (89 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    A rather disappointing 2005. While it was good, it was somewhat Merlot glossy. Not spoofilated like a Pavie of the same vintage, for example, but lacking nuance and complexity. It was pleasing, to be sure. And some tasters ooh and ah over this. But I think it lacked gravitas. Let’s just say that 2006 had too much gravitas, and 2005… not enough. (90 pts.)
  • 2003 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Cornucopia of aromas and flavors and not cooked or jammy. One of the very best wines from this torrid vintage - and it is no coincidence that Calon Segur is in the northern Medoc. It lacks the substance of the greater mid palates from 2003 (Pichon Baron or Leoville Barton for example) but its charm is appealing. (92 pts.)
  • 2002 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    I used to love 02s from the Left Bank, but be warned that some seem on a faster evolutionary track than before. There was discussion over 2001/2002, with some tasters saying that the 2002 will outlast 2001. For me, the 2001 - certainly “classic” - has more matiere and I lean towards the view that the 2001 will outlast the 2002, in this case. (89 pts.)
  • 2001 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Here a solid example of a Medoc 2001 that is provides structure and tannin for the longer haul. While opening 2001s and 2002s before the dinner, I was surprised by the air that 2001 needed. This wine obtained the most votes for wine to be consumed in 10 years. I would agree. The 2009 and 2010 need 20. (91 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    In a closed phase. I think that this wine has much potential but it seemed very muscular, pebbly and closed down. Do not touch now. (90 pts.)
  • 1999 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Smooth and accessible. I recall trying this along with Montrose 1999 five years ago in Bordeaux, and many preferred the Calon Segur 1999. This wine seems very juicy and accessible and some at my table loved it more than either the 1998 or the 2000 - at first. But over time, we realized its limitations. If you have any 1999, enjoy it sooner than later. (90 pts.)
  • 1998 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    What a very pleasant surprise. The Cabernets have been tamed with time in bottle. 1998 saw rainfall that messed up the Cabernet harvest - otherwise it would have been like 2000. 1998 was a great year for Merlot and Calon Segur included some 50 percent Merlot in this period, so we have a wine with a very endearing nose followed by structure that has some flesh. Lovely stuff! (92 pts.)
  • 1996 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    What lovely cool blueberry fruit. This had much precision and focus and it was one of my favorite wines of the evening. It was interesting to compare this to 1995 and 1989. Keith Levenberg loved the 1995, and while the 1995 may have had more substance on the mid palate, I think that the 1996 conveyed greater freshness and precision. An interesting comparison to be sure. (93 pts.)
  • 1995 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    The aromatics were more roasted to the cool 1996. The palate quite enveloping and full bodied and - pleasing. I liked the palate feel and the fact that I felt this wine pushing my flavor sensors in a good way. But it had just a touch of monolithic to it. (91 pts.)
  • 1989 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Here some bottle variation, and one table had the really good bottle (among the three per vintage). Still, I could understand why over half of the 35 participants at this marvelous dinner chose this wine to be their favorite among the 16 vintages to drink today. From Phil Bernstein of MacArthur Beverages to Kathy Morgan, master sommelier, this was the proverbial “wine of the night”. I liked the bloody aspect to this wine, which paired superbly with the lamb: an excellent wine/food pairing, but still found myself more into the 1996. (92 pts.)
  • 1982 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Once again: bottle variation. There are 1982s and there are 1982s. Just two years ago, a Calon Segur 1982 beat out most others as the “best”. But we have had a string of slightly oxidized or tired versions this evening. The one at our table was not oxidized but somewhat muted. With air, it started to liven up, but it had already been carafed for about one hour - and we were worried about too much contact. Although it firmed up, it never achieved a superior level of complexity and nuance that I had had with another 1982 some three years ago. (91 pts.)

Many thanks to Laurent for his generous offer of most all wines. And to participants Maria Denton, who brought four bottles of Krug to start things off, to Chris Bublitz, who brought a couple of 1982s, to Howard Cooper for bringing a magnificent bottle of Lafaurie-Peyraguey 1986 and to Randy McFarlane for a Rieussec 1989.

Ripple is a class act, the food and service are both superb!
Posted from CellarTracker

Thanks for the notes. Did you notice much difference in style from 1990 and earlier to the 2006 vintage at which time they changed the % of Merlot in the blend?

I have 18 bottles of the 2009, it’s surely a great wine.

Yes. The 2008 through 2010 tasted more like classic Medocs because of the increased use of Cabernet. The one wine from before that may hint at the newer style is the 1996, which really tasted of Cabernet.

Ha ha ha :slight_smile:

I wasn’t at the tasting, but this has always been my experience with the 1996 Calon Segur as well. There is a bit more of that leafy, slightly green (not in a bad way) Cabernet profile. I dig it.

Panos, thanks for organizing this and for including me. And, it was wonderful to meet Laurent Dufau who did a tremendous job explaining Calon Segur and the wines. A wonderful evening.

Also, the food at Ripple really is impressive. I had never been there until a couple of weeks ago and now have been there twice. If one combines the short-rib ravioli from my last visit with the veal shortbread from this trip, well, wow, what a meal. And I don’t mean to shortchange the other dishes. Wonderful evening.

As for the wines, I thought my 1982 was quite good. I also really liked the 1996, 2000, the massive 2005, 2009 and 2010. But, when I look at pricing, I have to think about the 2001 and 2008. I think the sweet spot today in Bordeaux for value is the very good but not great vintages and I think these wines will provide a lot of enjoyment likely without breaking the bank.

All and all the wines were much more consistent than I expected. Calon has a reputation for hitting it out of the park in some vintages and being ok in others. I did not find it so. Certainly, the 2002 and 2007 were a bit weaker than other wines. But, I would be happy to have virtually any of the others with a nice meal.

Cheers Howard. We had a very good time. I guess there is some bias to my liking the 09 so much, since I do own it, but I really liked it and agree that the 1996 was special. 2001 and 2008 are certainly noteworthy because of price/quality ratios.
Thanks for the wonderful Lafaurie Peyraguey 1986, which was my favorite among the three stickies. It was almost Barsac like and seemed to be on a slow evolutionary track. I liked the Raymond Lafon 2001, too. I thought the Rieussec 1989 had a slight TCA taint or something was up with it.
And the Krug was great. Coming from multiple vintages dating back to 1990, as Maria said. The main vintage in that NV blend was 2005. Very rich yet also precise.

Panos, I am more of a Barsac lover than a Sauternes lover (and as you know when it comes to sweeter wines, my heart is with riesling). I like the acid, which for me provides balance and refreshment to a sweeter wine. I like Lafaurie Peyraguey because it has more acid than most Sauternes and is to me about halfway between a Sauternes and a Barsac. I also like the 1986 vintage - at least what I have had from the vintage has had good acidity - esp. Climens. I love 1986 Climens, even better than the 1988 we had a coupple of weeks ago.

I generally like Krug, but I thought this was one of the best NV Krugs I have ever had. Kenny, who generally dislikes Champagne and hates Krug (too yeasty for him), really liked the wine as well. I don’t know Champagne vintages very well. Is 2005 supposed to be a good vintage there?

Cheers Howard. I share your love for Barsac.

think 2005 is not a super great vintage in Champagne. Not that I am a Champagne expert or anything, but the 05s I have had come across as overly rich for my taste, as compared to 04s, which have more balance and energy - and which I prefer. But this NV Krug blended vintages in such a way as to achieve something special, as you noted, balancing the richness of the 05 vintage with verve and focus.

It was a great evening. I don’t think I have been to a vertical where my rating range was so tight except the 07.

TN: CALON SEGUR VERTICAL - Ripple Restaurant in DC (1/20/2014)

Panos organized a comprehensive vertical of sixteen vintages of Calon Segur. The history and the wine making style are nicely explained by Panos already. The wines are classic with all showing a hint of green/vegetal note. I thought the wines were very good but not quite up to the current standard of some of the top classified growths. For me whose Bordeaux palate is in-line with Bob, I was hoping for a bit more concentration and layered fruits. This was an incredibly education tasting.
MV Krug

2008, 2009 & 2010

  • 2008 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Nicely reflecting the vintage, bright red and dark fruits, cassis, a hint of oak and cedar. Medium concentration, fresh, mineral, sweet red fruit palate impression and noticeable but non-obtrusive tannins. As pretty as Bordeaux can be. Lovely wine that is drinking well in very youthful way without tertiary notes as one can expect. (92 pts.)
  • 2009 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Blue fruits, blueberry jam, sweet spices and graphite. Exceptional concentration, round, soft, silky, ripe blue fruit driven palate impression and nicely integrated tannins. It nicely displays the ripe vintage character without losing the chateau signature, ie fresh/slightly under-ripe characters. (93 pts.)
  • 2010 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    This is a classic claret from an excellent vintage. Fresh red fruit driven nose, very strong lead pencil and mineral notes, a hint of green and cedar. Excellent concentration, mineral and sweet tannins. This along the 09 will require minimum twenty years to reach the first stage of peak. I doubt that these will shut down really hard especially the 09. Both nicely representing the respective vintages. (94 pts.)

2005, 2006b& 2007

  • 2005 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    This is reaching the first stage of maturity. Sweet red fruits, red cherries, plum, lead pencil, mineral, ash and a hint of green that keeps the wine fresh. Very good concentration, good acidity, silky and strong presence of tannins, not dry but quite strong. I find this to be similar to the 10 despite having more merlot. (93 pts.)
  • 2006 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Soft, red fruits, green, lead pencil, mineral and red fruits. Decent concentration, slightly unripe palate fruit expression and noticeable tannins that is a bit dry. (90 pts.)
  • 2007 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Oak, chocolate coming from oak and vegetal. A lot of wine making but not much substance. (84 pts.)

2001, 2002 & 2003

  • 2001 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    A classic claret, red fruits, red cassis, cedar, a hint of green and mineral. Slightly less than medium concentration, silky, soft, precise and nicely integrated tannins. Still quite youthful but drinking very well. Still not showing much tertiary but ready to go. Some noticeable tannins at the end. Although this is drinking incredibly well and very 2001, I don’t quite find anything too special, a nicely aged average classified growth. (91 pts.)
  • 2002 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Ripe black and red fruits, sweet spices and earth. Good concentration and noticeable tannins. This seems a bit monolithic and quite chunky. This will need more time but will remain a bit boring, IMO. (91 pts.)
  • 2003 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Ripe but not overripe nose, red and blue fruits, plum, cassis, a hint of green driven cedar note, sweet spices, caramel and earth. Excellent concentration, round and soft palate and nicely integrated tannins. I strong believe that this will develop like the 82, soft red fruit driven wine with strong note of cedar. (93 pts.)

1998, 1999 & 2000

  • 1998 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Bright jammy candied red fruits, cedar, lead pencil and earth. Medium concentration, sweet red fruit driven palate impression, bright acidity and nicely integrated tannins. For me this and the 01 are two that are drinking really well in youthful way. Both quite clean, pure and classic. Lovely. (92 pts.)
  • 1999 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    One of the most floral wine, ripe blue and red fruits and lead pencil. A bit more concentration that the 98, ripe dark fruit palate impression and noticeable tannins that are a bit dry. Still need time but open for business. (90 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Dark fruit expression, plum, cassis, ink, lead pencil and mineral. Good concentration, chewy, a bit rustic and noticeable structure. Very good wine but a bit disappointing considering the vintage. (92 pts.)

1989, 1995 & 1996

  • 1989 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    The first fully matured example showing mostly tertiary notes. Bright red fruits, plum, quite sweet, cedar and caramel. Medium concentration, silky palate, bright acidity and nicely integrated tannins. I believe this was WOTN for some participants. For me, this is a fully matured claret that is drinking wonderfully. The complexity is coming mostly from cellaring. (91 pts.)
  • 1995 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Red fruits, plum, cedar and caramel. This next to the 96 reminded me the 95 vs 96 Margaux. The 96 better defined and more classic. This seems a bit monolithic. (91 pts.)
  • 1996 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Mostly red fruit driven, quite mineral, lead pencil, cedar, a hint of eucalyptus Classic claret and drinking extremely well in very youthful way. This is a classic St. Estephe, quite mineral, precise and pure. (94 pts.)


  • 1982 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    Fully mature, love ripe red fruits, dry red fruits, plum and cherry, caramel, cedar and leather. A bit soft and need a bit more energy. (92 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

Kevin, thanks for posting your excellent notes!

Panos, this was a superb event–thanks again for putting it together. And huge thanks to Laurent Dufau for bringing all that wonderful wine over to DC and for giving us such a fine presentation.

My WOTN was the 1989–lovely stuff! Will keep my eyes open for that one, as well as the gorgeous 1996 and beguiling 2001. The trio of 2008, 2009 and 2010 was highly, highly impressive, especially the 2010. I’ll see if I can get some bottles to lay away for nursing home consumption.

Panos, your sister appeared to be discharging her photographic responsibilities very diligently–I’ll be interested to see her photos.

Thanks for the invite, Panos. I agree with a lot of what was said. I greatly preferred the earlier style of winemaking to the more recent vintages (I like less Cab and less new oak). My favorite flight was the 89/95/96 by far. My table had the good bottle of 82, so I may have been more impressed with that than others (side note: my note on last night’s would have more in line with Kevin’s note from the December dinner at which he ranked it 2 points higher; full disclosure: that was my bottle).

The Rieussec was flawed - but my guess is VA, not TCA, as I thought it smelled like nail polish remover.

The food was spectacular - maybe the best wine pairing dinner I’ve been to in terms of quality of each dish from start to finish.

Thanks for the notes. I ended up with a bottle of the 1996 from a charity auction, so I’m glad to see that it’s showing so well now. I’m assuming, though, that it will continue to improve in the cellar, eh?


Sounds like a fantastic event - I love CS (and ironically I was in DC this past weekend).
Interesting regarding the '82 - I opened one of my bottles for a friend’s birthday a few months ago, and we both thought that after an hour of decanting it still felt too young. Despite that, it blew the 1996 Palmer away.

Yes, while it has been drinking well for a while, I doubt it will peak/plateau for another 10-15 years at a minimum if stored well. It was my wine of the night, edging out the '10.

I am so sorry I couldn’t make it but do appreciate the invitation, Randy. It sounds as if the 2003 was relatively well received. A drink-now wine? Or one to hold. I am always inclined to think more time rather than less with Calon

Thanks for chiming in all!

That’s it, Greg, regarding the 1982. I recently brought one to a dinner in Washington - only two years ago, HERE THE LINK, and it was for many of us the wine of the night. As the saying goes, it ain’t the wine but the bottle (or the cork).

Bottle variation was an issue this evening, particularly with the 1982s but also with the 2002s, the 1995s and the 1989s to a lesser extent. Light VA with two out of the three 1999s donated by the chateau.

Yes, Scott, the Rieussec had a VA problem, not TCA. I just recall thinking something was not quite right about it.

Anyway, we could have all ended with a much higher note on the 1982 but we were not lucky.

Neal, I agree with you that most Calon Segur wines may last longer than one may think.

As for the older vintages/style, I can see why more than half the participants voted for the 1989 - it was a pleaser. But the 1996 is great, and will need as Ken suggested, another 10 years or so to be truly ready. I had that same impression trying the 1996 Calon over dinner last month.

You can drink it now, but no where near it’s peak. As Kevin suggested, this will probably evolve like the '82, except it will probably be a bit better. It is ripe and pure and will evolve into a very nice wine at worst. I won’t open mine for another 15 years or so, maybe 1 a bit sooner to check. Along with the '96, '09, and '10, this was one of the best wines of the tasting.