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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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3 different wines with 72 vintages

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.

 Erin Larkin, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  14 wines 

CHATEAU MARGAUX 2017 / 89% cabernet sauvignon, 8% merlot, 2% cabernet franc, 1% petit verdot/ 100% new oak. Red currants, succulent and intense, also sweet… great harmony and choral resonance… I realise I’ve drifted off in my own thoughts with this wine… the flavour lingers so. This is BDX, it is the best wine we’ve had today (this week/month etc) and it is the reason why we seek to make and drink better wine. Holy crapola.

1m 5h ago

 Izak Litwar , Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  73 wines 

Château Langoa Barton 2020 – Sister property to Leoville Barton and similar to her big "sister" in terms of the quality. Big scaled on the nose and palate with creamy blackcurrants, graphite, fat tannin, strong backbone, and striking complexity. Classy stuff.  53.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 8.5% Cabernet Franc. 13.5% alcohol.


94+p. 

3m 16d ago

 Izak Litwar , Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  56 wines 

Bordeaux 2020 Vintage - Château Smith Haut Lafitte 2020- lots of aromatic blackcurrants and black cherries on the nose, powerful on the palate with a strong backbone, big concentration, multilayered and with great length. Long, long finish. Impressive effort. 96-97p.

4m 10h ago

 Christer Byklum , Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  38 wines 

Château Mouton-Rothschild 2020 / Ruby. Fruit driven, cassis, anise, some spices nose, blackberries, intensely scented, almost transparent yet such depth. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, dark fruits, smooth and detailed, layered, anise, liquorice, deep, long. Superb freshness to it. Such energy. Pauillac is not the place that shines the most in 2020, but this one does. 97-99

4m 6d ago

 Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  17 wines 

2020 Smith Haut Lafitte/ A blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot aging in 60% new barriques, the very deep purple-black colored 2020 Smith Haut Lafitte makes an impactful entrance, opening with flamboyant notes of blackcurrant pastilles, chocolate-covered cherries and molten licorice, leading to nuances of ground cloves, woodsmoke, crushed rocks and dusty soil. The medium to full-bodied palate bursts with opulent black fruit preserves and shimmering mineral sparks, framed by exquisitely ripe and fantastically firm tannins and seamless freshness, finishing with epically long-lasting earthy and savory layers. This is the singular voice of Smith Haut Lafitte at its finest, and wow-oh-wow is it worth a listen. This 2020 has an alcohol of 14.5% with a pH of 3.65. The tannins this year were a little higher than 2018 and 2019. A little less than a third of production went into this grand vin. 98-100p

4m 27d ago

 Markus Del Monego MW , Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  153 wines 

2020 – the paradox vintage - part two

5m 9d ago

 Markus Del Monego MW , Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  650 wines 

2020 – the paradox vintage 


2020 began with mild temperatures even breaking temperature record highs at the beginning of February. These conditions led to a premature budbreak. Budding developed unevenly, very much depending on the locations although the coo and humid weather in April had not a very significant impact on slowing down the growth of the vines. Finally all the vines came into bloom at the end of May without any significant coulure or millerandage. At the start of June, frequent rain intensified the pressure of mildew. From mid-June, the weather changed. The whole Bordelais saw a period of very dry weather for two months. However, the earlier accumulation of water reserves prevented water stress. Around July 18 a heat wave began to build up but the cool nighty prevented water stress on the wines again. The veraison started at the end of July and went on till the beginning of August. The heatwave in August accentuated water stress, but shorter rainy episodes avoided a complete block. The dry and sunny weather in September encouraged the grapes maturity and harvest started on September 10 with a rather mild weather. Towards the middle of September, rain prevented the fruits from wilting but as its frequency was quite concerning, the haves was pushed forward. "Le diabolique" is the title given to this vintage by Véronique Sanders. It is a very special French word, which is not correctly translated with “diabolic” in English. In France, the expression means to overcome the devil. And the vintners succeeded. 2020 is clearly a vintner’s vintage which asked a permanent reinvention of the wineries, struggling hard with this difficult vintage. However, the vintage surprises with excellent wines, exemplary freshness and elegance and very dense structure. In former times it was said that the vine has to suffer to make exquisite wines, in this vintage the people have suffered to make a great wine. The first part of notes for this tasting with over 800 wines you will find today. More notes will follow over the coming days.

5m 10d ago

 Izak Litwar , Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  100 wines 

I'll repeat myself with the phrase, "Pomerol is one of the strongest districts in 2018"! The truth is that it's s an accurate and valid statement. Despite not tasting Petrus and Lafleur, to name some of the big hitters, I can assure, that there is enough exceptional goof for every taste from Pomerol. As everywhere in Bordeaux, there also are very few wines under the usual standard in Pomerol.


 

7m 17d ago

 Izak Litwar , Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  21 wines 

Bordeaux 2018 in bottle / After having tasted more than 150 wines already (primo January 2021), big and small properties, I can already make a very bold statement. This vintage in red is really something, and I've to backtrack my earlier opinion based on barrel tasting, that it's inconsistent compared to 2010 and 2016. It seems that the time spent in barrels and final blends benefitted the wines a lot and they're of high quality everywhere in Bordeaux. 

9m 9d ago

 Clive Coates / MW, Wine Writer (France)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  41 wines 

Montrachet, 2002 Domaine Des Comtes Lafon.
Montrachet, please notice. No Le, as the plot is on the Chassagne side. Here was a wine which took its time to come out of the glass. At first I was a little underwhelmed, but after ten minutes or so, the richness, concentration, and indeed a succulence almost like a red wine, began to appear. We have something which is quite oaky, still quite youthful, full bodied and very classy indeed: the depth unmistakably of a grand cru. Quite splendid!

11m 12d ago

 Stephen Tanzer, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Calon-Ségur . In a tasting of  18 wines 

Petrus 1961 / Deep red-ruby color with an amber edge. Utterly singular perfumed, high-pitched aromas of loganberry, cherry and flowers. An awesomely concentrated wine of huge power and depth. Chewy with extract and wonderfully sweet and rich. Shows the strong iron note I often get from merlot on the Pomerol plateau, along with superripe suggestions of cherry liqueur and dark chocolate. Finishes with great grip and length, and a bit less sweetness than the middle palate would suggest. Drink now through 2020.

1y 1m ago

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