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Wine Advocate 90 points
1990: An amber/orange edge to the color suggests full maturity, and the aromas and flavors confirm it. The medium-bodied 1990 Calon Segur exhibits sweet cedar, currant, herb, plum, and kirsch notes along with a dusty earthiness. It lacks the concentration of the finest vintages from the mid-nineties as well as every top vintage from 2000 onward. No doubt high yields and a lack of a strict selection have resulted in a wine that has consistently been on a fast evolutionary track. There is a sensuality and sexiness to it because of its full maturity. Very pleasant at present, it needs to be drunk up over the next 4-5 years. Release price: ($310.00/case)- Robert Parker Jr. (06/2009)
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.
An early, even flowering, a warm but unspectacular summer and an exceptionally hot period during the end of August and the first half of September. It was this heat that made it possible for the record harvest to not only to fully ripen, but also to concentrate the fruit. The harvest started on September 14 and was finished before heavy rains commenced on October 2. Another reason for the success of the vintage was that most châteaux had invested in their cellars and were able to work such a large and hot harvest. It was now possible to control the fermentation temperatures better than in earlier hot vintages, such as 1947. The grapes produced wines with such high natural alcohol that chaptalization became unnecessary. They showed deep colour, high and unusually soft tannin levels and a better acidity than first thought, as well as great fruit concentration. The media hype was great, particularly thanks to the advent of new wine magazines - this was the vintage that cemented Robert Parker’s reputation. The prices rose rapidly and have not looked back since. I remember all Premier Crus (including Pétrus) being offered to end consumers for around 50 euros en-primeur in 1983.
The scene when the 1990 vintage came along was quite different. There was a surplus of very good to great wine on the market – for the first time there was talk of three great vintages following one another. This lead to most châteaux lowering their prices by about 20 per cent compared to their 1989 prices, even though the quality was outstanding. There had been a steady increase in prices during the 1980s, but they were now more or less back to the opening prices of the 1982s. It was again a record harvest, but because most châteaux had by now introduced a ‘second wine’ and due to the fact they were more selective with regards to quality, there was actually less wine being bottled as ‘Grand Vin’ than in 1982.
We have been following both these vintages from a comparatively early age, as they were both precocious and easy to drink from the start. The top wines from both vintages are spectacular, but the overall quality is much higher in 1990. Here the wines were equally successful on both sides of the river, and even minor châteaux produced something special. We have always found most 1982s from the right bank to be too alcoholic and lacking in structure; indeed many are now ageing rapidly.