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News

French Insurance Firm Bought Bordeaux's Calon-Ségur

Jean-François Moueix helps engineer $212.5 million deal; buys minority share

 

Bordeaux third-growth Château Calon-Ségur has been sold to Suravenir, the life-insurance subsidiary of French banking group Credit Mutuel Arkea, for an estimated $212.5 million. Videlot, a Bordeaux wine group owned by Jean-François Moueix, is a minority partner in the deal. The purchase agreement was signed June 29 and the buyers expect to finalize the sale in November. 

The purchase includes 235 acres in St.-Estèphe, encompassing Calon-Ségur, second label Marquis de Calon and a cru bourgeois property, Capbern-Gasqueton. This is the most prominent of several Bordeaux properties to recently change hands, largely due to inheritance taxes and family disagreements.

The estate was sold by Hélène de Baritault du Carpia and her nieces Agnes Florisoone and Sophie de Mascarel de la Corbière. The future of Calon-Ségur has been in question since the death of proprietor Denise Capbern-Gasqueton in September 2011 at the age of 87. The formidable Madame Gasqueton, as she was known, had run the estate with passion and a firm hand since the death of her husband in 1995. Calon-Ségur's wines earned high praise during that time, but she was a divisive figure in the family, which has owned the estate since the late 19th century.

Credit Mutuel Arkea has been looking to diversify its investment portfolio with a vineyard acquisition for some time. "We consider Calon-Ségur a long-term investment that will gain in value and we are here to be a stable, long-term investor. There is no plan to resell the property in 10 years or anything like that," Credit Mutuel Arkea spokesperson Florence Eckenschwiller told Wine Spectator.

This is the first vineyard investment for Brittany-based Credit Mutuel Arkea, and for this reason executives were happy to allow Moueix to buy a small stake in exchange for not only helping organize the deal, but gaining access to his experience. "Mr. Moueix will participate in all decisions related to running the estate. We consider him and his expertise a guarantee for success," said Eckenschwiller.

Moueix—the current owner of Pomerol’s famed Château Pétrus, négociant Duclot and a wine retail chain in France—was unavailable for comment, but Credit Mutuel Arkea confirmed that Moueix had provided the same service at Calon-Ségur that he had at Château Montrose.

In 2006, when Château Montrose’s then-owner, Jean-Louis Charmolüe, decided to sell, Jean-Francois Moueix brought billionaires Martin and Olivier Bouygues to the table. At the time, Jean-Francois and his brother, Christian Moueix (owner of Right Bank châteaus such as Trotanoy and La Fleur-Pétrus), acquired minority stakes in Montrose.

Calon-Ségur has a rich pedigree, once among the properties owned by the "Prince of Vines," Nicolas-Alexandre, the Marquis de Ségur—along with châteaus Lafite, Latour, Mouton-Rothschild, Pontet-Canet, d'Armailhac and Montrose. The château passed through various owners in the late-18th and 19th centuries, until it was purchased by Georges Gasqueton of Château Capbern-Gasqueton in 1894. However, Calon-Ségur's iconic heart-shaped label remains a reminder of the Marquis' assertion that, "I make my wine at Lafite and Latour, but my heart is in Calon."

 

Suzanne Mustacich

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History

Perhaps because it is one of the oldest estates in the Médoc, or perhaps because its most emblematic owner, the Marquis de Ségur, built an absolute legend around Calon.

Historians date the origins of Calon back to the Gallo-Roman era. Its name is derived from the term “calones”, which were small transport boats that travelled up and down the Gironde estuary. Wine growing at the estate can be traced back to the 12th century, but it was in the 18th century, at the time of Nicolas-Alexandre the Marquis de Ségur, who also owned Latour, Lafite and Mouton, that the finest chapter of the property’s history was written. Calon thereafter was to be known as Calon Ségur.

 

The estate acquired the rank of Third Classified Growth in the famous 1855 classification. From 1894 to 2012, Calon’s owners, the Gasqueton family, preserved the estate’s identity with sobriety and elegance.

Today, Château Calon Ségur and Château Capbern Gasqueton, are owned by the Suravenir company, subsidiary of the banking group Crédit Mutuel Arkéa headed by Jean-Pierre Denis. The insurance company joined forces with the Videlot group. Together, they are leading an extensive programme of renovation, which will at the same time carefully preserve the estate’s historic values

 

Make no mistake, Jean-Pierre Denis’s succumbing to the charms of Calon Ségur was, above all, the carefully thought-through decision of a bank that operates in the real economy and chooses to invest for the long term. This businessman, however, is no stranger to the world of wine. He first developed an interest in wine at the age of 35. “A late conversion but sincere and complete”, he says. As much a collector as a winelover, he has a preference for the wines of Bordeaux.

 

To manage the estate, he has chosen Laurent Dufau, a Médocain born and bred, and the grandson of a wine-grower. For Laurent Dufau, it is an exciting challenge both on a technical and a human level, and he is supported at the estate by a committed team, loyal to the spirit of Calon.

The technical management remains in the hands of Vincent Millet, who was recruited by Denise Gasqueton in 2006. When first taking up his new post, he set about defining an ambitious restructuring of the vineyard. His professional mission is to bring out the quintessential character of this historic terroir.

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Vineyards

Fifty-five hectares (136 acres) at the time of the 1855 classification, fifty-five hectares today: the estate is a rare example of consistency of terroir over the centuries.

The vineyard is made up of one single block adjacent to the village of Saint-Estèphe. Unique in the Médoc, it is completely surrounded by a stone wall. Inside, closest to the château, this “enclos” groups together the most famous plots of Calon.

There are very few geological models that can be compared with the terroir of Calon Ségur. The vines delve down into a deep gravel layer that was deposited there by the river. This layer covers another which is predominantly clay. This combination of clay and gravel soils is one of the main reasons for the power and finesse displayed in the wines of Calon Ségur.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the backbone of Calon Ségur. This grape variety makes up over three-quarters of the blend, and in great years its proportion can be as high as 90%.

No great wines can ever be made without constant and meticulous care of the vines. The soils are ploughed in the time-honoured tradition. From spring to autumn, vine canopy management tasks are done by large numbers of vineyard personnel. The crop is picked by hand at perfect ripeness.

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Winemaking

On this superb Saint-Estèphe terroir, power is a given. There’s no need to add any more.
The cellarmaster’s job is to preserve the softness in the tannins, the freshness of flavour and the natural character in the aromas. In short, he must respect the raw material picked from the vines. The wine is aged in new oak barrels for 18 to 20 months. Fining with natural egg whites was reintroduced a few years ago.

 

The Grand Vin of Calon Ségur is the mirror image of its terroir: rare, authentic, moving. With great ease, it reveals both lovely softness and amazing intensity. All the magic of Calon is in this balance.

The Second Wine : Marquis de Calon
The estate’s Second Wine is a different expression of the Calon terroir. With an average proportion of 75% Merlot in the blend, it is enjoyable to drink in the immediate term and exhibits a warm and velvety character. It is aged in barrels, a third of which are new, for up to 18 months.

 

APPELLATION Saint-Estèphe.
Third classified Growth in 1855.
CONSULTANT  Éric Boissenot.
SOIL A thick layer of gravel laid down during the Quaternary Period. Predominantly clay 
sub-soil from the Tertiary Period. At the summit of the gravel deposits, there is also 
a fine layer of clay of lacustrine origin.
VINEYARD AREA 55 ha (136 acres).
AREA IN PRODUCTION 45 ha (50 ha planted).
GRAPE VARIETIES 53% Cabernet sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 7% Cabernet franc, 2% petit Verdot.
AVERAGE AGE OF THE VINES 22 years.
TRAINING METHOD Double Guyot.
PLANTING DENSITY 8,000 vines/ha.
TARGET YIELD 45 hl/ha.
HARVEST Hand picking. A first selection of grapes on the vine. Mechanical sorting of the grapes by vibration, followed by hand sorting.
VINIFICATION Temperature-controlled conical stainless-steel tanks. Maceration for 18 to 21 days.
AGEING 18 to 20 months, 30% new barrels. 
Fining with egg white.
AVERAGE ANNUAL PRODUCTION Around 80,000 bottles.
 
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People

  • Nicolas-Alexandre, Marquis de Ségur (1697-1755)

    "I make wine at Lafite and Latour, but my heart is at Calon.”

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Jan-Erik Paulson, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  25 wines 

This was definitely the most amazing dinner I had the pleasure to attend this year. 30 wines from 1947.
2 bottlings of Pétrus and 5 bottles of Cheval Blanc.


Thank you Robert.
My favorites were Cheval Blanc, Pétrus, Mouton and Margaux.

14d 17h ago

 Marie-Helen Krebs, Sommelier (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  12 wines 

A "petite" 2010 vintage tasting with perfect Le Pin and other gems!

1m 29d ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  31 wines 

The Finnish summer has not started yet - the sea is still cold (+14c) and it's raining every second day - but the colder the weather is, the better is the taste:)


Here are some summer wines I have tried between the showers.

3m 2d ago

 Jan-Erik Paulson, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  11 wines 

1949 was a great vintage that has aged beautifully.

3m 18d ago

 Dhruv Sawhney, Wine Lover (India)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  14 wines 

Vintage 1961 tasting with Mouton, Lafleur, Petrus, Latour, La Chapelle, Palmer etc.

4m 4d ago

 Izak Litwar / The most important Scandinavian Bordeaux Critic, Pro (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  30 wines 

Château La Conseillante 1945-2015 / La Conseillante 2005 95p. Tasted four times. Consistent notes. Yield - 38 hl/ha. Great stuff coming from this outstanding vintage. Truffles, seductive nose. elegant and incredibly classy wine, red meat, very sophisticated and with excellent length and structure, incredibly long aftertaste. Fantastic wine and I wonder if 2010 will turn out to be better.

4m 12d ago

 Omar Khan, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  28 wines 

Château Montrose 1895-2000  / Chateau Montrose 1990 / Carnality and a kind of wild, wanton grace distinguish this wine. For many in our tasting, it was one of the wines of the evening. You have cassis, leather and herbs on the nose, consorting with redcurrant and some tobacco. It opens with a lush, sweet opulence that has nice delineation, and still impressive tannic structure. You get layers of sweet fruit with an exotic spice mixture at and past the mid palate, and it flirted nicely with the stunning Macaronade. The finish is awash in concentration, a wine of palate enveloping dimensionality, to me just shy of the poise and tension I’m after in wines with the potential for greatness certainly evident here. 96 Points

5m 24d ago

 Izak Litwar / The most important Scandinavian Bordeaux Critic, Pro (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  161 wines 

Bordeaux 2016 vintage!

5m 24d ago

 Andrew Caillard MW, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  126 wines 

Every now and again one stumbles across a paradox that confounds the accepted natural order of things. The 2016 Bordeaux vintage was born out of a growing season that was near-catastrophe and near-perfection. After the Hesperian Dragon’s relentless torment, the Titan God Atlas had seemingly kept the sky aloft with the help of a Phoenix. Following five months of diabolical weather patterns, a warm to hot dry summer arrived in the nick of time, not only saving a vintage, but creating one of the most spectacular vintages in a lifetime.


 The sense of relief in Bordeaux must have been as thrilling as avoiding the bullet of Russian Roulette, or the adrenalin of surviving a base-jump. The razor’s edge has never been so exquisitely fine. While the end result is not always perfect, with the odd abrasions here and there, the overall quality of the 2016 Bordeaux vintage is remarkably consistent with many Chateaux making some of their best wines in 50 years. Typically, the wines have deep colours, pure fruit aromatics, generous saturated flavours, dense rich tannin structures and bell clear acidities. Precision, freshness, elegance, smoothness and “delicate opulence” are words that are being used by various Chateaux to describe their wines.


 The Bordelais are, of course, the world’s greatest spin doctors. They leave snake charmers for dead when it comes to the art of mesmerising. The newly opened and impressive Cité du Vin, which sits on the banks of the Garonne River in Bordeaux, sparkles like a polished turd; a monument to the exaggerations and optimism of this particular type of fine wine game. Momentum is achieved through belief. There is no room for wavering or self-doubt.

5m 24d ago

 Christer Byklum / Leading Scandinavian wine blogger, Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  75 wines 

In 2016 Pauillac has made some excellent wines and on the top, Mouton has made something very special and might be wine of the vintage competing with Petrus. Lots of estate has made excellent wines from Pauillac this year. Saint-Estephe has also made stunning wines and Cos d'Estournel has made one of the greatest wines I have ever tasted from them. Northern Médoc is far better in 2016 than in 2015, but for me, 2016 on a whole delivers more. 2015 for me eas a bit hyped even if the wines were very good indeed. 2016 probably has the edge over 2011 as well that is seriously undervalued in the market, but will give many some surprises for the future.

6m 5d ago

 Michael Jones, Wine Blogger (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  14 wines 

What a night! There were a couple of surprises at the top of my list of the ’82 reds: Cos d’Estournel (98) and Gruaud Larose (95). I know they are great wines in general, but to rise above this competition is a major accomplishment. Petrus (95), Haut Brion (93) and Pichon Lalande (93) rounded out my top five… not too surprising. Some of the wines seemed just slightly over the hill… perhaps losing some concentration and drying out. I think this accounts for some of the “disappointments”, if you can call wines of this quality disappointing. I’d be deliriously happy to drink any one of them (excluding the La Mission) at any time. Finally, the two whites – champagne & sauterne, were extraordinary and close to perfection.

8m 9d ago

 Jason Huss / Auctionata, Wine Dealer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  8 wines 

A small vintage wine tasting amougst friends

10m 5d ago

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