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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.
Third classified Growth in 1855.
|CONSULTANT ŒNOLOGIST||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.
1947 Château Calon-Ségur (Saint-Estèphe)
Two centuries ago Calon was under the ownership of Marquis Nicolas-Alexandre de Ségur, owner of Lafite and Latour. He was also the president of the parliament of Bordeaux. Seemingly de Ségur preferred Calon to his other famous properties, and he is reputed to have stated, “ I make wine at Lafite and Latour, but my heart is at Calon”. The heart publicized on every label of Calon-Ségur commemorates this saying today. Just as the de Ségur lost his heart to Calon, so did I.
This 1947 Calon was the most generous and sumptuous Calon-Ségur I have ever tasted. Château bottled with heart on label. Level was by the neck. Decanted 2 hours before dinner. Dark, deep colour. An intense, open bouquet with plenty of fruit. Very chunky and loaded. Superb ripe fruit and intensely-flavoured. Finely balanced and has a long, soft and very graceful aftertaste. Big-hearted wine.
Where the 1945 represents sophistication, nuance and classic character, the 1947 is all about richness, robustness and succulence. Spring was delayed that year, which meant a late start to the growing season. Summer warmed up toward the autumn and the abundant sunshine ripened the grapes very quickly. Daytime temperatures ranged between 35-38° C. The crop was finally harvested in nearly tropical conditions, when a thunderstorm ravaged Bordeaux on 19-20 September.
Fortunately a large percentage of the grapes had already been harvested. The grapes were unusually hot during picking and volatile acids caused problems for many vineyards during fermentation. The end result was an absolutely extraordinary vintage, which turned out to be magnificent, particularly on the right bank and in Sauternes. Even young, these reds were exceptionally drinkable. Their life-cycle, on the other hand, has been surprisingly varied. The Pomerol and Saint-Émilion wines have proven superior to Médocs and Graves. The supreme wine of this vintage is most certainly the Château Cheval Blanc, which, in terms of mouthfeel, is perhaps the greatest wine of the entire 20th century. Why the Cheval Blanc was such an unparalleled success that year is something of a mystery. Unlike what happened to so many others, the Cheval Blanc didn’t suffer from excess volatile acids.
Everything from vineyard microclimate to production have been offered as explanations. Because the weather was unusually warm, there were no damp morning mists at the vineyards, which restricted the conditions conducive to the formation of natural yeasts that increase volatility. The heat also killed natural yeasts and the quantity was generally less than normal. Fermentation was done in small concrete tanks, which provided effective insulation against the outside heat and kept temperatures sufficiently low, thus preventing the formation of volatile acids. Another very interesting aspect of the Cheval Blanc’s production was its 5-10-year maturation in old barrels; this was due to the fact that new oak barrels were not available following the depression and war years. In all its glory, the 1947 Cheval Blanc caricatures modern winemaking as an incredible example of the pinnacles that can be reached with no help from technology. In addition to the Cheval, the Pétrus and Lafleur are vintage gems.